Service Economy and the State of Agriculture

News items in the last couple of weeks gave pause to the BU household to reflect on the state of agriculture in Barbados. If there is one industry that tells a sorry tale of mismanagement, lack of vision, a dearth of leadership – you get the idea – it is agriculture. The news that Barbados will produce about 7,000 tonnes of sugar in 2016 demands an explanation from government and in particular the minister of agriculture David Estwick who although known for making ‘noise’ has been very quiet on the abysmal performance of the sugar industry. If one is to judge from the statement that was issued by Chairman of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited (BSIL) Patrick Bethel, government must take much of the blame because of the late payment of the 2015 incentive payments totalling 15 million dollars. According to Bethell this is money used historically by the independent sugar farmers to prep for the season to come by servicing equipment, dropping manure among other tasks.

Then there was the perennial cry from CEO of the Barbados Agriculture Society (BAS) and a few others that the scourge of praedial larceny  continues to decimate the industry making it difficult for farmers to be profitable. There was a great expectation for the agriculture industry when Haynesley Benn and James Paul were elected to parliament on the same side. Both came with a rich agriculture background and resume. Benn tried his best before he was posted to a cushy diplomatic  Consul General job in Canada, duty free perks and all! Surprisingly Paul was not given the opportunity to succeed Benn and in 2011 had to stave an attempt to oust his as the CEO of the BAS – James Paul M.P. Fired from the BAS. The obvious question is why between Benn and Paul they have been unable to flesh out and champion a plan for agriculture. Why all the long talk and little progress in the industry for the eight years they have gained the government. Has there been any significant output by the agriculture industry to place a dent in food imports? Has there been any significant two initiatives local agriculture can defend as progress in the industry?

One is forced to ask Paul what has Agrofest achieved since inception. Is it correct the exhibition has been running since 2005? How can the BAS claim that Agrofest is a success and while there is thumping of chests there is no serious commitment to agriculture by the government. There has been no significant improvement on the island to dissuade  the thieves. There has been no shift in local taste from foreign to local. The 2016 Draft Estimates show no significant increase in budget allocation. Where is the leadership to highlight questionable pesticides. Are Barbadians happy with Monsanto products being sold and used in Barbados?

BU will listen to the Estimates debate to get a sense of whether agriculture will be prioritized.

Seriously 7,000 tonnes in 2016?

And what is the status of the $250 million Cane Industry Restructuring Project (CHIRP)?

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112 Comments on “Service Economy and the State of Agriculture”

  1. Vincent Haynes March 13, 2016 at 8:15 PM #

    millertheanunnaki March 13, 2016 at 7:13 PM #

    The answer is blowing in the winds.

    A lot of NGO sweat over the last 40 years was incurred in offering a direction to govt. for Ag. with loads of papers…..ah gone sleep….age…..ah ain big guts an young like BT.


  2. Colonel Buggy March 13, 2016 at 9:16 PM #

    Perhaps the UWI will encourage land owners in the Scotland District, to reintroduce the growing of chocolate/ cocoa which for many years grew ‘wild’ in the damp, chalky and sandy soil of St Thomas-St Joseph-St Andrew.


  3. Colonel Buggy March 13, 2016 at 9:46 PM #

    Sunshine Sunny Shine March 13, 2016 at 4:13 PM #

    Let me rephrase my first sentence. The ministry of agriculture has many persons from Barbados who have been trained from over and away.
    Are you surprised? Tonight we heard the Attorney General on CBC News listing a whole host of countries that come to his assistance when he calls on them to conduct training in Barbados.
    This is in spite of the fact , that we send our people out on long courses to some of the finest universities and training establishments, in the Caribbean, Canada, the United States ,the United Kingdom and many other places.
    We send policemen to Bramshill and Hendon Police Colleges, alongside of men from the various police constabularies in the UK and the Commonwealth. Some of our police officers attend FBI courses. And in the military, we regularly send out officers to Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK, West Point in the USA, and the Royal Military College of Canada. Yet still when a problem arises, or when training is required ,both in Government and in the Private Sector, we resort to bringing in people from overseas. Seems that we have very little confidence in our own people .
    Once, while in the services, I had an engineering problem. which I thought was beyond my scope, so I asked my superior to link me up with the expert advisors, who sat in an office across the channel. ” Expert advice ?”he queried, ” We have sent you on many courses pertaining to this discipline. YOU ARE THE EXPERT!!!. Get on with it.”


  4. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 14, 2016 at 8:43 AM #

    Colonel Buggy

    In all fairness, a number of academic achievers are working in many environments and departments that are frustrating. They are frustrated by the system and the deliberate attempts by those who influences it the most. I am sure that many of the scientists in the ministry of agriculture would utter differently, mainly, that they work is ignored, shelved or subject to malicious bias base on who you are and who you are loyal too. This could be the dilemma that the ministry faces. However, there still is no real forthcoming effort on their part that pioneers the push for growing our own food even when there was no economic or DLP madness. Even the cry for the ministry to step up to the plate in an effort to reduce the high import bill has not produced much. What could the real problem of this ministry be beside lacking in real impetus?


  5. Vincent Haynes March 14, 2016 at 9:14 AM #

    Colonel Buggy March 13, 2016 at 9:46 PM #

    Years ago I spent some time with the USDA(Equiv to our MoA) in upstate NYC and what struck me was that the majority of the extension officer were farmers in their own right,they would share the latest varieties or techniques with confidence to fellow farmers as they had first hand knowledge as opposed to text book/internet knowledge.


  6. balance March 15, 2016 at 5:07 AM #

    “Even the cry for the ministry to step up to the plate in an effort to reduce the high import bill has not produced much”
    step up the plate in what way? And what will they grow to reduce the high import food bill? rice, flour hardly any cane around now? I await your answer.


  7. Vincent Haynes March 15, 2016 at 8:56 AM #

    balance March 15, 2016 at 5:07 AM #

    We can grow all types of vegetables even the northern types using green house technology,ground provisions to be rotated with cane,breadfruit,breadnut,fruit,etc.

    Rice if needs be can be had from our caricom partner Guyana and Flour can be made from breadfruit,cassava or corn better than wheat flour.


  8. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 15, 2016 at 12:43 PM #

    Vincent Haynes

    We can experiment with trying to grow rice here. Our population is not that big and so flooding a few acres of land under controlled conditions should not be problem. All it needs is just a little effort.


  9. Vincent Haynes March 15, 2016 at 1:04 PM #

    Sunshine Sunny Shine March 15, 2016 at 12:43 PM #

    I agree with you that with todays technology we can try it again possibly using the aquaponics medium.

    We did experiment with it here before my time,I think during the war years when our people were using big grain rice i.e. sweet potatoe as it was called then.


  10. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 15, 2016 at 3:13 PM #


    Why the heck should I answer you? It is obvious from your cynicism that you feel nothing can be done to reduce the food import bill. So indicating to you the many times I have uttered the words – experiment with crops not commonly grown in Barbados in the control environment, would not mean one thing to you? Telling you that the same way we can import mix vegetables in the frozen packages and cans, or telling you that we could flood a few fields and grow rice might only come with some shite talk about costs to produce, and manufacturing will be too high. So I am not going to answer your question if you do not want a serious answer. If there is no effort or try, then how would we know what we can grow or do that will help cut down the stupid dependency for over and away foods?


  11. Colonel Buggy March 15, 2016 at 9:50 PM #

    Sunshine Sunny Shine March 15, 2016 at 12:43 PM
    A Guyanese now living in St Joseph where there is an ample amount of stream water has successfully grown a small quantity of rice there. A Bajan on his return to Barbados from Panama, planted some rice in Chimborazzo, but the location and soil structure was not conducive to growing rice to maturity.


  12. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 16, 2016 at 9:35 AM #

    Colonel Buggy

    You only fail if you have not tried. The fact that rice grew in Barbados means that it can grow on a larger scale. Regardless if the soil was not conducive in that other location or not, you can create a controlled environment, bring the right soil and plant 2 or 3 acres. This can happen in any location as long as the land is available and easily accessible. Shite, we got people building airports on sea water, creating manmade islands, producing robotics that thinks. You are telling me that for the sake of helping us with food we cannot spend to create the right environment? Spend to bring in the right soil? Spend to construct the infrastructure for planting some rice? We got some thieving bitches willing to plunge we in debt for 40 years on an overpriced piece of unknown technology for garbage energy. Crooked bitches willing to spend 7 million on a celebration in the midst of numerous problems, and taxing the shit out of bajans without anything to show where the money is going. Why we cannot spend a similar sum to start constructing structures to produce food under control conditions. All you need is a start and follow through. You know when I contemplate my island, the government of Barbados does find all the right reasons to commit to shite that everyone else can see that is wrong, and a whole lot of shite reasons articulated to sound right so as not do what is right and just by the people.


  13. Colonel Buggy March 16, 2016 at 5:58 PM #

    We have adequate soil all over Barbados to grow in abundance, yams, sweet potatoes, white/irish/english potatoes ,corn cassava ,etc etc, and we are not doing it. Forget the government, do you think that there is a single farmer out there who is willing to turn his land into paddy fields to grow rice, when in the end with labour and milling costs , Hill and Massy will still be selling imported rice far cheaper.


  14. Vincent Haynes March 16, 2016 at 7:07 PM #

    Colonel Buggy March 16, 2016 at 5:58 PM #

    Neccesity is the mother of invention……in the absence of imported foods,due to the blockage during WW2,John Saint was placed in charge of Ag. production in Bim and did an admirable job as evinced with the invention of big grain rice.

    I posit that aquaponics could produce a cheaper rice,failing which lets create something from breadfruit/nut,cassava,yam,s/potatoe,eddoes,tanya,callaloo,plantain,buffoe,bannanas,etc,etc


  15. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 17, 2016 at 6:55 AM #

    Colonel Buggy ”do you think that there is a single farmer out there who is willing to turn his land into paddy fields to grow rice, when in the end with labour and milling costs , Hill and Massy will still be selling imported rice far cheaper.”

    Is this not the reason why we do not manufacture food in a big way`? Is it not thinking like this that have us importing everything from over and away?We have no real establish food industry because people say it is easier to import than to produce it. These are the same thoughts that bring us right back where we started and that is nothing. Well Colonel Buggy, if all the countries producing food that is exported all around the world use to think like Barbadians, they too would be in the same shitety position like Barbados. We can find the best excuses to say why we can’t and when the shit hit the fan find all the reasons to say after why we must. I am of the belief that nothing beats a failure than a try.


    So what if, just what if each farmer in Barbados decided to turn 1 acre into paddy fields for rice under control conditions. We got 20 farms turning out 1 acre for rice resulting 20 acres of rice being planted in the controlled environment. Imagine if those same 20 farmers decided to procure the necessary milling equipment to get those rice mill for sale. Imagine if the farmers employ a number of persons to work in their operations. Imagine if the rice produced is sold on Barbadians retail shelves and all Barbadians are buying the local produce rice. We would produce x amount of tonnes of rice, create employment for a few, reduce the amount of rice imported (if bajans can pull away from Uncle Benn and Indian Girl), and have a rice manufacturing industry started in Barbados.

    You want to tell me that all we are going to do all the time is to say we can’t. Then it makes no sense talking about the high import bill when we like it so.


  16. Peltdownman March 17, 2016 at 7:42 AM #

    I have read the above with interest, especially contributions from Vincent and SSS. We can, of course, grow many things in Barbados thanks to modern technology. However, a former Prime Minister decided that land should fetch its highest economic value, and that is as real estate. So all land owners went out of agriculture in the forlorn hope that it would eventually fetch a high price as housing or golf courses. You only have to drive through the countryside now to see the results of this flawed policy. The land can’t be sold for real estate, because there is no demand at the prices being asked, and yet there is nothing to encourage owners to return to agriculture. So we grow bush and burn it every dry season, and import everything. Food importers have more than their fair share of political influence, and the top end of the Ministry of Agriculture is loaded with tired and lazy civil servants who, frankly, can’t be bothered. As with industry, there simply is no policy. Neither the Ministry of Agriculture nor the Ministry of Industry are interested in formulating a policy, other than to support free trade agreements that encourage importation without getting anything in return. The Minister of Industry recently remarked that local producers are “intellectually lazy” when it comes to seeking opportunities arising out of free trade agreements. I would suggest that he look inwards to his own Ministry if he wants to find “intellectual laziness”.


  17. Vincent Haynes March 17, 2016 at 1:00 PM #

    Peltdownman March 17, 2016 at 7:42 AM #

    In your post you have grabbed the essence of the situation,in Bim from its inception it was merchant vs planter with the planter enjoying the ascendancy for centuries,since the early 1900’s the table was turned and one saw the merchants power increasing and today they are force to be reckoned with.

    A merchant simply buys and sells at a profit,the majority of goods sold in Bim are imported and this is facilitated by the granting of licenses by govt. departments,who in turn extract revenue.

    Farming is not in the interest of any of the two parties or the merchants.


  18. David March 17, 2016 at 1:03 PM #

    Good comment Vincent. It is always about ‘follow the money’.


  19. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 17, 2016 at 4:03 PM #

    Vincent Haynes

    We import a lot of cereal grain (oak flakes, mornflakes etc). The wheat for this is produced primarily in temperate countries. Do you know that Brazil and other tropical countries are growing wheat successfully? I agree with you that we should embark on making something out of the foods we grow here.


    I am convinced that we are happy importing rather than manufacturing. All the talk about import bill and growing food are all smoke screens of discussion that is not intended bear any fruit. We are just not interested in developing agriculture so nothing wrong with taking out 68 million and putting where the politicians believe it can be best ‘UTILIZED.’


  20. Colonel Buggy March 17, 2016 at 9:58 PM #

    The once agricultural lands in Barbados is more profitable to those who at times masquerade as farmers,as Real Estate,moreso than Agricultural Estates , and especially, now that Mr Barrow’s Cane Blade wish is just one or two crop seasons away. Mr Barrow wishes for diversified agriculture has turned out as diversifed concrete culture.


  21. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 18, 2016 at 4:47 AM #

    Vincent, David, Colonel Buggy and Peltdownman

    Columbus made his discoveries and it became profitable to the Spanish armada and for Spain. You have made the connection and discovery that does not place agriculture as a sector worth the effort. Ok, now we must put the interest in those who may have land to start planting. We have to tell those who are planting to establish a network of support for each other. We have to tell the focus must be on producing good quality. We have to tell them lobby government for assistance with setting structures for greenhouse control. We have to entice the general public to support the new farming initiative by buying products and playing their part towards a farming lottery to assist farmers with establishing standards and good farming practices. Shite are we just going to sit back and except the inevitable.


  22. David March 18, 2016 at 5:34 AM #


    The bottomline is this, and you know it, unless there is a groundswell of demand from the people and or some extraordinary leadership from the top, there will be no hope for local agriculture. We have the next generation already condition to the taste of ‘imports’.


  23. Bush Tea March 18, 2016 at 6:55 AM #

    @ David
    “….unless there is a groundswell of demand from the people and or some extraordinary leadership from the top, there will be no hope for local agriculture….”
    There is another potential game-changer……

    ….but coming as it will, ‘like a thief in the night’, it will not allow time to change for those who are not prepared ….

    The parable of the wise and foolish virgins is a ‘must-read’ if you really want to understand how it will go down….


  24. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 18, 2016 at 9:56 AM #


    Yes, I do understand. I just do not understand how an island as educated as Barbados could be so foolish concerning its food needs. I have never seen so much suffering as the suffering I saw when I was there for crop over. Many bajans just look stress and strained. Yet, most seem contented with their circumstances and the way government continues to treat them. Do bajans no longer have anything they believe is worthy of fighting for? We can change our food situation if we just commit to it. To hell with the useless politicians. What will it take, starvation, more poverty, what?


  25. David March 18, 2016 at 10:00 AM #

    Bajans have not had to fight for anything since Independence, not even that because it was handed to us.


  26. Vincent Haynes March 18, 2016 at 12:57 PM #

    Sunshine Sunny Shine March 18, 2016 at 9:56 AM #

    Bajans as a collective have never fought for anything which is why both political parties are comfortably esconsed on the throne of Bim and every 10-15 years swap seats but maintain the status quo.

    I have been close to Ag. in this country for over 50 years and with the comfort of age can see that the intent to destroy it was always there by acts of ommission and commission.


  27. Vincent Haynes March 18, 2016 at 12:59 PM #

    As you can see it seems to be a western affliction and we know only to well how we love to copy.


  28. Colonel Buggy March 18, 2016 at 9:52 PM #

    Sunshine Sunny Shine March 18, 2016 at 9:56 AM #
    To hell with the useless politicians. What will it take, starvation, more poverty, what?
    Who do you think in the first place has given Massy and the other food importers the right of way to bring in foods that are, or could be, grown locally?


  29. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 19, 2016 at 4:25 AM #

    Colonel Buggy

    I really do not know how to respond to what you said because you are right. It makes no sense saying that it is time absolute power be removed from the hands of the Prime Minister and ministers. Bajans are beaten into silence.

    Vincent Haynes

    People like yourself who see what governments has done to agriculture should advocate against its destroyers who are pretending that they are interested in it.


    Hope is kindled when it is not lost. Continue the advocacy and exposure of the corrupt elements in Barbados. I am finished with this topic. Seems like all here have just given up and cave into to what is. None is sounding a trumpet about what we can do to change it. Just read all that you all have written. It sounds like stuck records all giving in to inevitable shite.


  30. David March 19, 2016 at 5:40 AM #


    You are being a little harsh? Was there a cut in the ag budget in the Estimates? Did we hear of any strategic policy changes planned for the industry? Did we hear any loud feedback in any public fora by John Public?


  31. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 19, 2016 at 11:03 AM #


    How am I being a little harsh when you just referred me to what is happening to agriculture, again? Wuh David, you and all the others already told me that there is a systematic attempt to keep agriculture low key so that government operatives and those before the Massy group set tentacles in Bimshire can retain their much comfortable synergistic arrangement of imports that assures benefits and rewards are given. Why do you think you have to point that to me again? I thought you would be telling me that we need to put it out there that the government has no intention of developing a systematic agriculture initiative strong enough to support a meaningful percentage of our food needs and sustainable enough to reduce a percentage of our high food import bill. As a result, the call from BU should be for all farmers, small plot and large plot holders, those who can lease land for agriculture production, those who can improvise and start planting, to engage in a programme of FOOD FOR CHANGE that is centred around increasing what we already have and experimenting with what do not. Instead, you point me to what these shites are doing knowing that it was done before. You really know how you sound? You sound like you want to project a similar state of defeatism that says accept the things I cannot change because you ain’t got the courage to change the things that you can while trying to project all this wisdom that you know the difference. All that you did by pointing me to the facts of budget cuts and no policy plan for agriculture is telling me that BU, although fulfilling some aspects of its mandate, is not exactly pioneering the call for change. Does not intend on campaigning on here with flyers, posters or other means asking people to send them out to the world for the enactment of anticorruption legislations, greater transparency and accountability, and the need for the government to move on agriculture in a way that it can be sustained and protected. I think you have done a lot to bring awareness, but you are also forced to work within your little bubble because of intimidation.


  32. David March 19, 2016 at 11:07 AM #


    The majority of Barbadians lack the capacity to wean themselves from the pathway they are on; to shift taste buds if you will.


  33. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 19, 2016 at 12:20 PM #


    What you telling me. That all the trees in Barbados already reach the stage where they can no longer bend? Look what awareness did to the Cahill Project? Why can’t a similar approach be applied to all those areas we know want attention. Why can’t an online canvas be introduced to protest against the government’s wayward decisions? I finish with this David, see you in another forum.


  34. Vincent Haynes March 19, 2016 at 12:49 PM #

    Sunshine Sunny Shine March 19, 2016 at 12:20 PM #

    What is required is for your generation to come back to Bim and take up the fight.

    My generation will contribute to BU,so all can now the truth of our past,lived as well as handed down by Griots.

    The political class and the merchants are in control of Bim.


  35. Vincent Haynes March 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM #

    Nothing new under the sun in the 1950’s they used bagasse to build houses,in the 80’s they tried it again and discovered no built in obsolescence…….


  36. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM #


    Nothing would please me more than to come back home to Barbados and try to change things. But, as you know, a war is not fought by one soldier unless you are Rambo. People like me left Barbados because I wanted to be accepted for what was in my head and not what was between my legs. As you know, there are about three main ways to get a job and rise to the top in Barbados.


  37. Vincent Haynes March 20, 2016 at 12:32 PM #


    Come on girl…..that is a defeatist statement and I can only believe that your injury has you a bit down……nothing is ever won without a fight…….use the head now and gather other likeminded ones in the diaspora and put together a plan of action…….you all are the only hope as my generation and the one before has allowed this generation a free ride and they have royally repaid us with the present state of our country on its 50th.


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