The Adrian Loveridge Column – Agriculture Connection

During 8th to 13th of October 2018 Barbados will host the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which has been described as the region’s premier agricultural event of the regional calendar. The declared theme is stated as ‘strengthening agriculture for a healthier future in the region’. Throughout the week ‘farmers, policymakers, youth, experts in the field of agriculture and other stakeholders, will participate in activities aimed at chartering the regions path in the important sector’.

The activities include a trade show and exhibition – market Place 2018 – seminars, workshops, field trips and a special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Agriculture (COTED).

As someone who is passionate about using more foodstuffs sourced locally and regionally and allied products in our tourism industry, I wish the event, all the very best.

While I understand the need to import vast quantities of visitor consumables in refrigerated containers, it does little or nothing to help grow our indigenous agricultural sector, either locally or across the Caribbean.

I graphically recall my first visit to Dominica where I witnessed literally thousands of ripe mangos rotting on the ground, while premium prices were still being paid here.

While operating our hotel and being unable to purchase locally grown mangos, we ordered the only available alternatives, which turned out to be tinned mangos imported by Thailand, at least 10,137 miles away by air and considerably longer by sea.

Surely, it is not above the collective ability of our manufacturers and distributors to can those otherwise wasted mangos into whole fruit or puree that could be used in any number of ways?

Years ago the worldwide consumer product giant, Colgate Palmolive operated a small subsidiary, also on Dominica which produced natural coconut soap, a firm favourite with our guests.

I am absolutely convinced there are many more opportunities like these two examples and as Dominica and other Caribbean territories recover from the devastation of Maria and other hurricanes, isn’t it our moral duty to foster greater trade co-operation?

I have singled out Dominica especially, as it has clearly demonstrated its ability to feed its own population with one of the highest percentages of food self-sufficiency in the region, reputedly 80 per cent, coupled with one of the lowest per capita food import bills.

While writing this column, I read for the first time about the Canadian Government funded agency, PROPEL (Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprise and Linkages),whose declared aims include increasing the value of Caribbean fresh produce by accessing high-value markets in the Caribbean.

According to various media reports, ‘PROPEL is working with private sector buyers, producers, business service providers and other market actors to facilitate the safe, effective and efficient movement of fresh produce from the farm level to market’.

Could this be a perfect model for us to work with and emulate to finally bring our farmers and tourism partners together for mutual benefit?

18 comments

  • sirfuzzy (i was a sheep some years ago; not a sheep anymore)

    Having maximum agriculture input into the leading forex earner makes economic sense. It allows us(GoB) to maximise forex retention by lowering the forex required to purchase the same food provided by local farmers. It all makes perfect common sense on paper and policy wise; but for years it appears to be something very difficult to materialise. maybe with a “many hand make light work” and “not business as usual” approach we may start to see some progress.

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  • There was a high expectation by the blogmaster of the former government with Benn and Paul in the government. Not to make this political. However it seems policy priotoians lack of finances compromised the effort to integrate agriculture in policy position.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    The PROPEL project had a seven year duration and a budget of Can$8 million, but it comes to an end in 82 days. It was run by the Canadian Hunger Foundation http://www.chf-partners.ca/ but their website is littered with broken links and the PROPEL project is not mentioned. In fact they appear to have gone out of business way back in 2015 https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/after-50-years-ottawa-based-canadian-hunger-foundation-will-hand-over-existing-operations-519888581.html

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  • According to media reporting PROPEL, is still very much in existence. As late at December 2017 a 20 ton container of seedlings was shipped to Dominica under the programme in cooperation with Global Affairs Canada and WUSC Caribbean. The Canadian Government support was also quoted at $20 million.

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  • Just two economic theory corrections:

    Too many hands lead to diminishing returns ,since the workers get into each other’s way.
    No, it was not finance but lack of project management skills… implementation deficit.

    Talk is cheap. Walk requires an expenditure of effort. Finance is seldom the resource needed.

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  • Hotels and restaurants need fresh fruit and vegetables on a regular consistent basis.

    Vegetables grown in Greenhouses could be supplied year round in Barbados.

    The goal of a small island with limited natural resources should be to grow as much food as possible and minimise

    importing.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Hants at 9 :38 Am

    Green house growing of vegetables is a good idea. In deed. it has been implemented for ay least 15 years. It is the concerted effort that is needed to ensure a continuous supply. In passing even this activity requires a high level of imported inputs capital equipment ,seeds ,fertilizers . It is virtually an assembly industry; labour and sunshine are the only local inputs.

    Hence Hal, the need for local economists obsession with foreign exchange.

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  • @PLT

    The PROPEL project is very much alive, the one identity you quote is indeed wrapping up in the next few months, however Adrian is correct that there are numerous other projects under PROPEL which are very much active and producing positive results based on the mandate.

    Adrian focusing on Dominica in house FOOD production should be the envey of other independent Caribbean countries. Barbados should observe, investigate and learn from what they consider to
    be a lesser functioning country compared to Barbados. Maybe the mighty Barbados has regressed more the they realize.

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  • When David Thompson won the government in 2008 he announced he would have undertaken an initiative with Dominica to supply fruits and vegetables. Up to now we have not been able to make this a reality because of the danger of importing crop disease?

    On Monday, 24 September 2018, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

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  • The blog master apparently had great expectations of Benn and Paul. I never did. Barbadians do not seem able to analyze things. The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) has been used as a political stepping stone for some persons. Ask yourself what are the backgrounds of Benn and Paul vis-a vis the different agricultural science disciplines? Do some research. Barbadians like people who are glib talkers and who seem to have a smattering of of knowledge about a topic and who keep a lot of noise. For agriculture to hold any sway in Barbados,there is going to be a need for it to be innovative in the use of science and technology. I am talking about cutting-edge technology given the small size of the country: the development and exportation of new products that do not now exist. A long-term plan of where the country’s agricultural policy must go is also needed.

    Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D. and CFS.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The blogmaster accepts your rebuke.

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  • Once again, we are pretending that this is a new problem. About forty years ago, I was involved in a small tour company. A Bajan tour rep , told visitors, not to eat cou cou because , it was messy, only eaten by blacks and will “stick in their throats”. Now, if that type of person was influencing the eating habits of visitors how would they have promoted anything local. After all cou cou, is our national dish.
    The point I am trying to make is that even in the best of times , tourists were given some deliberately negative information, designed primarily to keep out certain groups.
    Agriculture was a victim too.
    Dr. Lucas is correct as well- we have too many square pegs in round holes around here.

    Liked by 1 person

  • ” In welcoming the writers, Symmonds urged them to tell the story of Barbados, but not shy away from critiques as that would only serve to make the local tourism product better ”

    Could someone tell Symmonds that lesson 101 in marketing is not to state or highlight the ” negatives “

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  • This isn’t exactly agriculture but thought the BU readers might be interested to know that a Mexican man has built a house made of sargassum seaweed. He has manufactured the building blocks using the same techniques used locally to make adobe style bricks, which seems to be a common building material in that area. He claims that the sargassum blocks are strong and durable and are 50% cheaper to make than similar adobe style blocks. He also claims there is no foul smell lingering on after the process is complete. From my research on Youtube, adobe blocks are made by mixing water with clay, sand and straw and then pouring the mixture into forms and allowing to dry. I would suppose that the sargassum might perhaps be used as a replacement for the straw in the mixture.

    There is also a picture of the house in the newspaper article:

    PUERTO MORELOS, Q. Roo, September 20, 2018.- What the Quintana Roo authorities and scientists never imagined in their wildest dreams, a Portomorelense (man from Puerto Morelos) did… he built the first house entirely made of Sargassum, which could represent a worldwide milestone.

    Omar Sánchez Vázquez built Angelita – (he named the house in honor to his mother) – transforming the feared seaweed that invaded the beaches of Quintana Roo, into an organic, thermal and functional construction material, which by the way, costs 50 percent less than adobe bricks.

    The invention utilizes the same technique used to make adobe bricks, and its hardness is resistant to hurricanes, confirmed the proud creator.

    Owner of a nursery in Puerto Morelos, Sánchez Padilla said he will also constructing an office of seaweed partitions.

    https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2018/09/first-house-entirely-made-of-sargassum-built-by-mexican-inventor-in-quintana-roo/

    Like

  • Talking Loud Saying Nothing

    Judging by the story below the government’s priority is focused nearly exclusively on tourism. How strange that an island that gained her notoriety and wealth in agriculture appears indifferent to this most important sector.

    “The Minister of Tourism has also revealed that the Ministry of the Blue Economy has commissioned feasibility studies of the creation of two offshore islands on the west coast, a promise in the Barbados Labour Party’s 2018 general election manifesto.”

    This story of building two offshore islands will not go away; and is a sure sign that plans are in place to re-engineer Barbados demographics and i’m not talking exclusively about race.

    https://barbadostoday.bb/2018/09/24/barbados-is-back-with-investors/

    Like

  • “An approaching tropical wave with axis now near 49/50°W and associated with the remnants of Tropical Depression Kirk, will begin to affect Barbados late tomorrow into Thursday.

    The system which is tracking westward at between 20 and 25 mph (32 to 40 km/h), has been fluctuating in intensity and some re-development is possible as it approaches Barbados and the Windward Islands late tomorrow.”

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/198712/tropical-wave-bring-gusty-winds-heavy-rains

    Like

  • I notice that the spend of visitors to jamaica is up 12%, barbados can learn from their example…increase the cost of a bodyguards minimum wage.

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  • When David Thompson won the government in 2008 he announced he would have undertaken an initiative with Dominica to supply fruits and vegetables. Up to now we have not been able to make this a reality because of the danger of importing crop disease? (Quote)

    There is no real danger of this. Have we had an outbreak of crop diseases in Dominica. In any case, although the importation of citrus fruit from Dominica (UK supermarkets are full of the stuff and there is no fear of disease importation), the real failures are scientific and entrepreneurial. First, the English-speaking Caribbean have been sidelined by the Central and South American US-owned citrus plantations.
    But we could fight back by establishing a juicing plant in Dominica (that sorts our the fear of disease importation), cutting in to the market dominated by the US (ie Florida fruit juice), and the pulp can also be used to make marmalades, jams and other products. Our research scientists would also explore the residue for any medical products.
    Pine Hill Dairies could have dominated this avenue and it would have been a good investment opportunity for local retail and institutional investors.

    Like

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