Let Us Discuss Food Imports Minister YESTWICK!

Dr. Chelston Brathwaite with Minister Estwick

Dr. Chelston Brathwaite with Minister Estwick

“It has been reported that Barbados current food import bill is in the region of $800 million dollars annually.  The Minister of Agriculture has also stated that 65 percent of our food is produced locally. This means we import 35 percent of our food.  Our total food bill is therefore almost $2.3 billion dollars annually. This translates to over $20 per day for every man, woman and child.  Note that this is the cost at the point of production (or importation) and not point of sale. The cost at point of sale (supermarket, shop, restaurant etc.) would be higher to account for storage and distribution, profit, spoilage etc.  To get an idea of what this means lets look at a family of 4 shopping for all their food in a supermarket. This amounts to over $600 per week or $2400 per month.

I find this hard to believe.  Either the $800 million dollars per year is incorrect or the 65 percent is incorrect.  I tend to believe the 65 percent is incorrect and the Minister has the percentages reversed.  In other words, we import 65 percent of our food.  If this is correct we have a very long way to go towards food security.”

The above was submitted by Bentley where he raises the issue of food security which should concern all Barbadians. Although many Barbadians are indoctrinated and intoxicated by the benefits of globalization, a man made construct, BU subscribes to the position that a country is responsible for safeguarding its basic needs.

Relevant Link: CARDI Agriculture News

A quick reminder,  these are food, water, clothing and shelter. Any sensible national development strategy must promote an approach which assumes a measure of control over the supply of its basic needs by local government.

Surely in 2014 the citizenry of Barbados cannot remain oblivious to the risk of being 60%+ dependent on external suppliers for food. Now Bentley has been bold enough to question the Minister of Agriculture about his declaration that “Barbados is more self-sufficient in food production than many people may know.” where do we go from here? There was a time BU held the shadow finance minister of government in high regard, no longer.  The appointment of Dr. Chelston Brathwaite as our Ambassador to China sums it up. Brathwaite is our most recognized and accredited guru on agriculture.

31 comments

  • A lot of people in Barbados have the title Dr., PHD — Piled Higher and Deeper.

    If it looks like S_ _ t, smells like S_ _ t, no matter if the individual has a Dr/PHD, it’s still S_ _ t.

    Wake up Bajans and smell the roses.

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  • So Chuped Ah Bright

    The guru you speak of has always been interested in high positions…its talk he is guru of. Years in his position with IICA brought only rhetoric – had that rhetoric been implemented even just through those hallowed halls, all now so the whole Caribbean would have been self-sufficient in food.

    As for Barbados. Think on this. Barbados imports 800 million a year in food. Who collects the taxes on these imports and what sort of figure would that be? I know I am so chuped I bright but it does not take a rocket scientist to see that there would be no interest whatsoever in reducing that food bill. Local food is not taxed at the edge of the farm before it leaves for consumption.

    Imports of foods also make good money for those who import them. They buy second-class goods out of America – check food prices there on a retail level and remember that our guys buy at wholesale level – so we getting nasty food for very little money that our monied-men in that business add on huge profits to. Is it not these same monied-men that are in bed with government?

    Win-win situation for both these entities and who cares for those of us who have to consume. After all we got plenty doctors, clinics, and a super hospital to keep going, so our bad health is good business for them. And do not even discuss the pharmaceuticals for our ill health. And the pesticides we import for our gardens, our homes, and our farms – the Ministry does nothing to encourage clean organic farming. Why would they? Nice bit of taxes coming off all them too.

    Let us stop discussing the importance of being self-sufficient in food. As long as we have a government and huge food import agencies headed by the big honchos who put up some good money for their re-election, there will not be any reduction in food bill nor will there be any big wave of agriculture on this land – only enough to satisfy the pesticides they seem to believe are required.

    The US gotta be proud of us. Time to ask them if we could join Puerto Rico as one of their extra states. That should fix us fine. And then we could all be chuped til we glow in the dark.

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  • So Chuped Ah Bright | April 6, 2014 at 4:56 AM |

    Could not of said it better…..evidence abounds…

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  • This lead opinion is not as well researched and presented as it ought to have been.

    And again the substance of it shows why the DLP and the BLP are two intellectually and politically bankrupt and discredited political disorganizations that must go sooner rather than later in Barbados, or that must be eventually permanently removed by the broad masses and middle classes of people from the political governmental landscape of this country.

    The fact is that 65 per cent of our food is not produced locally.

    Clearly the statement – that Barbados produces 65 per cent of the food that is used locally – is automatically an absurd one, a careless one reportedly made by the Minister then, and one that is based on ignorance.

    But, some time after the Minister of Agriculture, Dr David Estwick, was reported to have said, in some sections of the local media, that 65 per cent of our food is produced locally, those of us who were in attendance at a Barbados Economic Society panel discussion at the Grande Salle of the Central Bank of Barbados towards the ending of last year, had the opportunity to have been made to understand by one of the learned panelists, and with the concurrence with a few others there, that the statement by the Minister was a misrepresentation of the facts, though perhaps honestly done.

    What the brilliant female agro-researcher stated, and which was agreed with by those particular persons who were in the know like her, at the BES organized event, was that the Minister was and could have been only speaking to a certain sample of categories of foods that have in fact been produced here, and not a far wider range of foods that have actually been imported into this country.

    Then, if Dr. Estwick had been careful to consider and had made use of the near picture of the full gamut of foods used up by persons in Barbados, he surely would have been able to give an estimation of a much considerably smaller percentage of food that is actually produced here and that we continue to use daily than the very outlandish 65 per cent.

    Well, the point is that Dr. Estwick, before he had said so, should have been careful in processing and musing his thoughts before actually saying such. Now, if he had done so, and with his already having been aware of the some of the reams of official data and information on the great many food and non-food items and commodities that are imported into Barbados yearly, and given that he is a bright, intelligent, and common sensical person, he would have been able to intuitively reflect and conclude – whatever the circumstances of the ill conceived thought, that this 65 per cent “is not going to sound or seem right”; that it “is not going to make any sense at all”, etc. And so in the process of doing such he would have quickly therefore prevented himself from incorrectly saying what he had said to the consternation and awe of many people in this country, who had sensed the reported statement at the time, or even where he had said what was attributed to him to have quickly corrected himself after and asked for clarity or statistical support for the statistic whatever the circumstances in which the statement was made.

    Moreover, had Dr Estwick been more careful and common sensical in what he had said then, perhaps today readers of this piece would not have seen the reproduction of such an errant statistic in it. And perhaps if the person who wrote this piece had been more researching and useful in exercising common sense at the time of writing it, perhaps today readers of this lead opinion would not have got the same.

    Finally, we reproduce something which we saw in the final comments of a letter to the Editor in the Weekend Nation of the week just ended by former Chief Justice David Simmons, and we make it quite apt to much of what we write in this post; now, here is it: The truth must not be idle while distortions remain active.

    PDC

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  • Barbados TripAdisor. Com

    You have to be circumspect with respect to the crooks, crackpots and creeps who tries to sell you fault hope in the form of alternative- medicine. A disturbing Harvard study found that an estimated 365, 000 people with HIV died prematurely between 2000 and 2005 in South Africa because of government decisions to promote alternative medicine over evidence based medicine.

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  • Sorry, I have posted on the wrong topic.

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  • Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Writing this revelation here on the blog is just a mere waste. Statistics in Barbados are duped to make the masses believe the stories that politicians want them to believe. If further digging is done concerning the true picture behind Barbados high import bill you will see that its not food that is responsible for the bill but the deals between the business people with the money and the money that they pay the ruthless crooks in government to keep it that way.

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  • To arrive at import cost one would imagine the authorities use CIF? The other costs like markups and to the middlemen not relevant.

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  • millertheanunnaki

    @ So Chuped Ah Bright | April 6, 2014 at 4:56 AM |

    Let me join Vincent Haynes in supporting your erudite analysis and conclusion regarding the food import bill.
    The country abounds with all sorts of PhD experts and gurus in Agriculture (including the two (2) Braithwaites Atlee & Chelston with one at home and one abroad) occupying the many offices and stations in the MoA headed by a dumped medical doctor who really does not give two hoots about his portfolio.

    But there is one factor you might have inadvertently overlooked.
    Imported food- whether from T&T, JCA, China, Europe or America- has to be paid for in foreign money.
    You can’t expect to borrow from overseas loan sharks to pay the same money to overseas merchants for their enhanced and addicted crap food? That would be the highest heights of Paro Economics which is being practised by the myopic political policy makers.
    There will be a time coming very soon when Barbados will be required to make some serious tradeoffs between using the scarce foreign exchange to pay for either imported fuels, medicines, mock hair and cell-phones, debt servicing commitments or processed food.

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  • Let us not forget Dr. George Reid who ventured to interact with BU family but that did not last very long.

    Let us not forget also the merchants in Barbados who have established companies in the USA and elsewhere to act as purchasing agents before invoicing local importers (themsleves). Something for our central bank to pursue.

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  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    @ David [BU]

    I give you Cave Shepherd Miami, lead among re-invoicers.

    It is to be noted though that when Neville Rowe was in fact getting valid discounted produce that the Customs Department bluntly refused his invoices and upped the CIT as only “gods on earth” can

    Sometimes even Plantations Fraud makes sense.

    We need to get rid of this cancer before the whole body dies….

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  • @PODRYR

    The clamp went placed on the mainly BLACK used car dealers as well although there is a question whether correct invoicing occurs with the new car dealerships.

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  • I dont think there is much government can do except to ban or tax highly certain imports, and the minute government start to do that you would hear a big hue and cry. I know some people might not want like to read this but, us Bajans have high exquisite taste. We want this brand and the next. Just look a certain supermarket chain that begins with ‘S’; 5 or 6 different brands of peanut butter, butter, jams, tinned goods, cereal etc etc etc. Another thing is many persons/businesses in wholesale are also into retail, so it would benefit them in terms of importing.

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  • Where do I start with this? According to the most recent report from the IPCC the climate change will cause a dramatic downward spiral in food production . It forecasts rising food prices due to these shortages and even outbreaks of hostilities among countries vying for food. The food producing countries will feed their own first and any scraps will go to their most trusted friends, maybe Barbados will be somewhere on that list.

    Barbadians will either have to adapt or die, almost every Bajan home has a small parcel of land on which basic items can be planted, if 50% of those homes plant some kind of food item it will go a long way in curbing the food import bill and the produce will taste better and be healthier.

    In another section there is discussion on land use “St. Davids to St. Patrick”, if one travels from Upton through St. Davids take the road leading to the right (not past the Church the one the locals call “the back road) and you will see land formerly covered in canes now covered in brush. This is an example of fertile land which is not being put to good use, I am sure there are many other examples the length and breadth of Barbados.

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  • @Sargeant

    That land you referred to, likely Bannatyne and other lands which but and bound is under dispute in court for years now. Kingslands Estate anyone? This is a reminder to those who do not appreciate how a family dispute can have national implication.

    On Sunday, 6 April 2014, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  • David

    I knew that land was part of the Deanes holdings but I thought the legal dispute was settled. Incidentally I seem to remember that one of the parties vying for control of the land wanted to establish a Golf course among other things. What rational person thinks Barbados needs more Golf courses ahead of increasing food production?

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  • @Sargeant

    Yes that was an early issue, unfortunately this is one of those matters where the litigants will like die before settlement.

    On Sunday, 6 April 2014, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  • How much money does the government make from taxing food imports?

    And what percent of the total taxes is that?

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  • @millertheanunnaki

    what you are really saying is we are living on borrowed time. We are living a lifestyle that is going to have a dramatic change. We have put into place a monetary system with strict fx controls and a arbitrary peg to the US$. That all worked well so long as we had more fx coming in than going out. That is what has changed. Our fx reserves are in decline and the only answer we have been able to come up with to get more fx is to borrow money from a world market that most recently rejected our request to borrow. That sent us into a panic mode to find a loan from Credit Swiss. This transaction entailed having the IMF become involved in our go forward. All the signs are there that they are going to get further involved. If we want to maintain our lifestyle we need to cut every expenditure that is related to FX outflows that we can. The alarm bell needs to be sounded.

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  • @SITH

    Not sure if you read the Tony Best report in the Sun today but he referred to a recent Moody’s report which confirms government’s commitment to the 2:1 peg.

    On Sunday, 6 April 2014, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  • David wrote “What rational person thinks Barbados needs more Golf courses ahead of increasing food production?”

    Its not the golf courses I am concerned about. It is the concrete and asphalt of housing development.

    Golf courses can easily be turned into arable land.

    Nothing in Barbados changes until there is a catastrophe so if we are lucky……….

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  • @David

    Did not read it However given that it came from the Government it means nothing. We all know it cant go along the way it is. We will eventually run out of FX. The next 6 months will tell us a lot. Any bets on whether he FX reserves will go up or down net of new borrowings? That is the key thing to watch. That will tell us whether we are living off of borrowed money.

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  • @SITH
    ” Any bets on whether he FX reserves will go up or down net of new borrowings?”………………………………………….

    We should get an idea by April 15th when the governor presents the first quarter results.

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  • I smell aloes and insularity. Good luck.

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  • PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2014 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    Do not buy American junk food and we will have less to worry about, Let it rot in the stores , Ministers love to find a way to make a buck in every part of Barbados, Did you all see the color of the Bajan sugar? Dam near white , all the good brown sugar are now in American stores and we get the sugar that help give up diabetes , WHITE SUGAR OR WEAK BAJANS SELL OUT SUGAR ,, LET SEE HOW MANY BODY PARTS BAJANS CAN LOSE THIS YEAR.
    SLAVER ALIVE AND WELL EVERYTHING FOR SALE

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  • As it relates to the question of the amount of imports of goods and services coming into Barbados yearly, there are some local people who think there are too many imports of goods and services into the country.

    While we have not reached the stage in the country where there are too many imports of any class or type of goods and services, all human efforts must be made to import greater and greater amounts of commercial goods and services into the country – other than where, in the process of doing so, there would be those cases where the importers of goods and services would present unfair competition to or would derive unfair commercial advantages over established local producers, or other than where too, in the process of importing greater and greater amounts of commercial goods and services, there would be those cases where such importers will present unfair competition to or will derive unfair commercial advantages over very strategically important local industries, etc.

    Having said such, the question is therefore not the amounts of goods and services coming into the country yearly, but the tremendous obscene amounts of remunerations or transfers or electronic computer numbers that have to be given up by commercial importers to the government of Barbados, via false fictitious exchange rate systems or via evil wicked TAXATION, in order to finally get access to and secure possession of their own goods and services.

    That is why a certain future coalitional government of Barbados and of which the PDC shall be a part shall ABOLISH TAXATION in this country, shall ABOLISH ALL SO-CALLED EXCHANGE RATE PARITIES WITH THE BARBADOS DOLLAR and shall make sure that the remunerations or transfers or financial institutional accounts of all importers of COMMERCIAL GOODS AND SERVICES into Barbados will NOT be costed, in the context of the importing of such imports, until they arrive for transaction at any ports of entry in Barbados, and that where such costs are done they will themselves will ONLY have to do with the remunerations that are to be given to persons functioning HERE within those ports or the remunerations of the persons or businesses doing business HERE with the said persons of the said ports.

    So there we go.

    PDC

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  • Frustrated Businessman

    Until the whitey-hating policy makers understand that sugar production needs to be subsidised in order to keep 1/5 to 1/4 of the cane land rotated in vegetables and ground-provisions, large-scale food production will not return to Bim.

    That leaves the colonisation of a few thousand acres of Guyana as the cheapest alternative to feeding us; we could use the Hong Kong lease as a template for an agreement to control an area of the Pomeroon from which sea-freight is practical.

    The Guyana solution would not employ the thousands of workers the cane-subsidies would guarantee but it would lower our costs and shift the responsibilities from traders to growers.

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  • We need to make up our minds, a service economy like St.Kitts or what?!!

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  • @ Frustrated Businessman wrote “sugar production needs to be subsidised”

    Almost every industry in Barbados lobbies for subsidies. Sugar,Tourism,Manufacturing…….

    large-scale food production will return to Bim when there is no forex to pay for imported food.

    I still want to know if Sugar Cane is the only “wonder” crop that the fortunes of Barbados Agriculture must be tied to.

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  • David they way forward is for Barbados to diversify the economy with more eggs and more baskets.

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  • @Hants

    In theory your last comment cannot be challenged but unless we get the economics right, the strategy which includes teefing it is just esoteric ruminations.

    Like

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