Barbados Improvements Part 3: Agriculture
Submitted by Freedom Crier
Investigate the production (oil palm) as the replacement for sugar cane production including on hilly or semi-arid lands. The infrastructure that we have in sugar plantations is the same as required for this type plantation crop and we have an oil processing plant in Barbados i.e. Roberts Manufacturing. Just a small amount of retooling is necessary. The by-products of Oil Palm production EG: palm kernel meal can be utilised and be consumed as chicken feed, cattle, sheep & goat feed, instead of the importation of feed and feed stocks. The soya bean stock that is imported now to make Oil, Margarine, etc. could be a thing of the past. Palms grow well in Barbados from coconut to ornamental palms. It is easy to include/change to Oil Palm & Date Palm if feasible and the topography and climate are conducive to these crops (Date Palm a more high valued product to be grown in the more arid parts of the island i.e. St. Lucy, St. Phillip) Another benefit to oil palm is the use of the land between and under the trees for raising cattle and Black Belly Sheep. This will also reduce the cost for weed control. There is a host of information on this type of farming on the net and can be had HERE.
The main objection to palm oil production are environmental such as the removal of forests to plant the trees and the destruction of the habitat for the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Orangutans. None of these apply to Barbados as the land has been cleared hundreds of years ago to grow sugar cane. Utilisation of the idle land for productive and sustainable use will help to reduce the rodent and other pest populations currently in these areas. The selected oil palms bear fruit after 3 years.
A similar palm tree, Bactris gasipaes, that bears fruit is Peewah or peach palm found in Trinidad. At this time of year it is sold like we sell Ackee at the side of the road and the fruit looks exactly like the fruit of the oil palm. The fruit is boiled and peeled and the flesh eaten. What left is the small coconut on the inside that you break open and eat.
2 Sugar Cane:
Government has indicated that it wants to keep the sugar cane industry for both production and aesthetic reasons with the countryside looking clean cut and manicured but a drive through the countryside you will see the amount of rab land that is idle and not the Barbados I remember. Most of the molasses used in Barbados is imported from Guyana. That is wise in that we import molasses and make rum and sell a value added product overseas as seen in Mount Gay Distilleries and to a greater extent RL Seale a contracted rum producer for the world’s best companies. Another product that we can make use of is the production of cane juice. Cane juice takes the major cost out of the production of sugar and every Bajan loves cane juice. Every tourist would want to drink cane juice, every hotel would offer cane juice. If the price was right. There are many health benefits for cane juice as the nutrients & enzymes probiotics are still present at this stage of production (Cane juice the new energy drink? Sure beats red bull) (and or create new signature drinks for bars utilising cane juice, a competition can bring out the best of our local bar-tenders talent. A rum and cane juice with a wedge of lime anyone?). At present cane juice sells for $14 for a half gallon in the supermarket. Imagine the volume that can be sold if it was wholesaled at <$5 per half gallon. The hotel industry will lap it up. If you felt that we still want to produce sugar how economical is that if you cannot produce cane juice for <$5 but want to produce sugar for $2.25 per lb. in the supermarket with all of the costs of production. Guyanese sugar sells for half of the Barbados sugar $1.10 per lb. We sell Molasses for $2 per gal at the port and cannot sell the juice for <$5? This molasses item is the cheapest item of food value in Barbados and we can import more from Guyana. Guyana does not have a tourist industry can we import frozen cane juice from Guyana if we cannot produce enough? A few small modern plants with the proper facilities can process the cane juice, filter & store it frozen or deliver fresh same day delivery. This item is year round revenue with a bump in extra wages for the tourist season as many more persons will be enjoying the juice.
We have a huge market for coconut water we know palms grow well in Barbados we should increase the production of coconuts for water and Jelly for the supermarkets and the Tourist market/Hotels. Beach bars sell branded coconuts to the cruise ship passengers now, and it does not cost foreign exchange. We however have a shortage of coconut water and its products now. The usage of coconut water can increase by many multiples utilising both the plantation system and small farmer setup that we currently have. This crop is year round revenue which means no yearly pressure months of high wages and waiting years to get the money repaid. This however depends on whether the trees are newly planted (you have to wait about 5-7 years before significant production starts.) or you use better farming practices such as fertiliser to increase yields from exiting trees. All of the investigative work is being done by the Barbados Ministry of Agriculture. Just the will and literally seed money by the government is now needed to bring in the high yielding seed nuts. The proposed first shipment is about 6,000 treated nuts. These can be grown with the palm trees as a mix plantation crop during the same time the germinating and initial nurturing of the palm oil palms trees.
4 King Grass:
King Grass is a tall grass and is easy to grow. It does not deplete the soil of its nutrients and can be grown repeatedly on the same spot. An amount is presently being grown and sold as fuel to BL&P to generate electricity it does not require the looking after and fertilising like sugar cane plants. As an added benefit that hardly any one talks about is that this grass is loved by cows and black belly sheep as forage. If it is encouraged it may be the start of a beef and lamb industry. The more that cows and sheep walk to forage for their grass the leaner and tougher the meat, now with the advent of the grass being provided the animals will not have to walk and they will get fatter and the meat will be more tender and can be in greater demand. Barbados beef does have a nice and desirable distinctive taste but tough, only a real life experiment will tell if the beef will indeed be tenderer. With this king grass the dairy cows may be more tender when put out to market as their forage will be given them daily. Note: that this is currently done on dairy farms at present with other grasses in the form of silage.
5 Medical Marijuana:
Marijuana will grow well in the type of soil and conditions we have. Medical marijuana is the plant without the THC the ingredient that makes one high. To grow this we will need to process it to the stage of the oil and tablet form, not export the raw material. We want the value add to remain in Barbados. This type of item will be in greater demand all over the world while the rest of the world concerns itself with decriminalising the use of high THC marijuana for smoking. The medical uses for this type of marijuana have greater access to the world for a host of illnesses. This is the plant with great future use in the medical industry and would have a premium value attached to it.
See benefits of Medical Marijuana:
6 Perennial Larceny:
The obvious problem that no politician venture to talk about. They may talk about it as in “we import too many items we can grow here in Barbados” or “we need food security” or “as a nation we are living too high we need to live within our means” or “Buy Bajan” or “have your own kitchen garden” but never that the small farmer who tries and grows most of the vegetable crops in Barbados are being robbed daily by crop thieves at night, the large scale farmers have already given up. Why plant and tend a crop for 10 weeks and the last week half is stolen and if you set a guard the last week, the 9th week half of it is stolen or the guard says” I did not see anything I must have been at the other end of the field”. We now have a situation that the large farmers are out and the small farmers who supply the bulk of local produce only get to sell half of what they sowed. The perennial larceny law needs up grading. The penalties needs stiffening, the police needs to respond within 20 minutes and the people protecting their land/livelihood/family can be given permission to use any type of force including using firearms. Now you know why yams/onions/carrots/sweet potatoes/butternut squash/water melons/other melons/beans/peppers/ ETC. have so high a selling price.
Since the PM rightly so, has embarked on a plan to make Barbados Government work and work correctly get the AG to do his part.
|Max Total Acreage that can be Available|
|Sugar Cane Juice||5,000||18|
Barbados has 28,000 acres of arable land
All of the waste that might be generated by these products/crops (oil palm/coconut etc.) can be utilised with the King Grass to be burnt to create electricity and any resultant ash can be recycle back to the farms/plantations as a potash source for fertilising crops.
Based on the topography of the hilly country side of St. Andrew & St Joseph those lands are presently not utilised, which is the better crop to use that will be easier/practical to get out of the valleys. – Oil palms and medical marijuana
BL&P can say now how much King Grass they can use now and in the future and if they want to use it as the main source for their boilers and the farmers can calculate how many acres are needed to satisfy BL&P with the rest for sheep/goat & cattle forage. No more Forex for furnace oil going out of the country.
All said and done Barbados can have a bright future in agriculture if the above are implemented and we have not touched as yet on the expanded role of the Agricultural station propagation unit in fruit (& other types) enhance trees or an education program how to….. Graph trees (Air Layering Propagation)/control pest/fungi/fertiliser use/their outreach to house holders. I have seen dounce/dunks the size of a golden apple and sugar apples/guava that could not fit in one hand. We need those here in Bim.
It will take a while for any vision of agriculture to materialise the fastest one that can start is Sugar Cane Juice followed by King Grass & Medical Marijuana. Oil Palm & Coconut have a few years before we can see the results. We can start with a real vision (like above) without which we will all perish.
Merit Based Immigration & Citizenship by Investment:
Barbados Improvements Part 1: Bridgetown
Barbados Improvements Part 2: Thoughts & Ideas