Carmeta’s Corner

This space was created to discuss and exchange ideas about promoting good nutrition, food security and related matters – Blogmaster

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  • AGRICULTURE BOOST

    Mon, 05/17/2021 – 5:00am
    Local multi-million-dollar greenhouse project reaping success
    By: Krystal Penny Bowen


    Co-Founder of Island Growers Caribbean, Ralph Birkhoff, is hoping to hire young people to work on the greenhouse farm located in St. Philip. The 5,000-square foot property is unique to the region and is energy and water-efficient.


    The multi-million-dollar climate-smart greenhouse is expected to produce a wide range of cold weather crops including lettuce, sweet peppers, and berries. The structure is the first of its kind to be hurricane-resistant and commercially insured.

    ONE Dutch Canadian businessman is transforming the agricultural industry by investing millions of dollars in greenhouse technology that can improve crop quality and variety in Barbados.

    Recently, The Barbados Advocate spoke to Co-Founder of Island Growers Caribbean, Ralph Birkhoff, about the project via the Zoom platform.

    Birkhoff explained his interest in food production in the region was stimulated by his personal experiences. The businessman highlighted that he found the produce in the Caribbean was different from what he was accustomed to in Toronto, Canada. Another issue for him was the high cost of fruits and vegetables on the islands.

    “[I] realised that there are some very serious challenges to agriculture in general in the region. [The Caribbean farmers] are quite successful in growing indigenous crops, root crops, and tropical fruits, but they have to import the cold weather crops,” said Birkhoff.

    He acknowledged that it is difficult to grow berries, tomatoes, pepper varieties in the region’s soil and climate.

    The Co-Founder of Island Growers Caribbean also noted that the most effective way of producing these types of crops is through protective agriculture or greenhouses.

    Birkhoff told this newspaper that greenhouse technology is not new, but the problem comes with durability and safeguarding the investment. He explained that his company solved these two problems.

    A year and a half ago, Birkhoff and his team built an engineered certified greenhouse, the first

    of its kind that can withstand hurricane-force winds of a Category 5 hurricane. They also constructed a structure that could be insured and Guardian Group is one of the first insurance companies to insure their greenhouses in the region. The fully insured Phase One greenhouse is managed by a long-standing Barbadian family of farmers, in collaboration with Island Growers and is located in St. Philip. The completed project will cost between 3.5 to 4 million US dollars.

    Latest technology, hydroponics and engineering

    Birkhoff said the fire-retardant, corrosion, pest, earthquake and volcanic ash-resistant structure is 5,000 square feet and uses a backup gas generator. Local engineer, Ralph Adams, was responsible for the foundation and structural engineering of the greenhouse farm.

    He added the greenhouse needs natural light from the sun to function. It will be expanded to 25,000 square feet in about six to eight months and incorporate solar technology (power and storage). The greenhouse utilises a hydroponics system with artificial intelligence (AI) customised for the subtropical region and it is more efficient in its energy and water usage.

    “[The AI system] controls all of the water temperatures, nutrient levels, the fertilisers and the air humidity and air temperature inside the greenhouse,” said Birkhoff.

    Another unique feature of the greenhouse is that it has a naturally aspirated system and there is no need for air conditioning, evaporative cooling systems or carbon dioxide (CO2) supplementation.

    “We are not competing with soil-based farming.

    Any hydroponics farm could outperform soil-based farming. But what we are competing with is other hydroponic systems to develop and come up with the best system for the Caribbean,” said Birkhoff.

    He stressed that this type of greenhouse has been tailor-made for the Caribbean, unlike other imported versions.

    Birkhoff also addressed the topic of praedial larceny and noted that the greenhouse will be using advanced imported technology to secure the property.

    The greenhouse is producing a variety of lettuce, herbs, microgreens (which are appealing to restaurant and hospitality industries), berries, tomatoes, and bell peppers. This type of farm is 100 per cent organic, USDA-certified organic farm (first in the region) and eventually, it will have Global GAP or Global Agricultural Practices certification. The latter is critical to helping local and Caribbean agricultural producers be more competitive globally and it is an asset many farmers do not possess in the Caribbean agricultural sector. GAP certification is the reason that many businesses import their food.

    “Because of their franchise agreements, they are obligated, they must import the food from the US,” said Birkhoff.

    First harvest scheduled for July

    Birkhoff said that the farmers partnering with Island Growers realised that they needed to diversify their crops. He noted they originally grew sweet potato, cassava, sugar cane, but they wanted to grow cold weather crop varieties. The greenhouse farm will produce a variety of lettuce, watercress, kale, arugula, spinach, fresh herbs, berries, tomatoes, and microgreens.

    The head of the Island Growers Caribbean told The Barbados Advocate that his team members are currently installing the production system and the first harvest is scheduled for July. He extended an invitation to restaurant owners and business owners who are interested in the project to contact him directly. He said that the produce from Phase One has been pre-sold to several resorts and restaurants. The businessman said that the cost of produce should be lower than what is being imported.

    “We are certainly anxious to show everyone the kind of quality that we have, because it really will be outstanding quality fresh produce, all organic and very high nutritional content,” said Birkhoff.

    Island Growers Caribbean recruiting young people

    An excited Birkhoff also revealed Island Growers Caribbean’s efforts to recruit young people into agriculture again. He indicated that the company is working with the Barbados Employment and Career Counselling Service in the Ministry of Labour. Island Growers Caribbean is receiving job applications for the greenhouse farm.

    “We are trying to get young people back into agriculture and part of that will be a training and certification and recruitment programme that will expand as the farm expands,” said Birkhoff.

    The Co-Founder of Island Growers Caribbean, who is living in Tobago, said that he has worked several years in the Caribbean. His specialty includes business development and project delivery in utility grade and private sector renewable energy projects across the Caribbean, Latin America, US, and India markets. In 2020, Birkhoff, who also manages Alquimi Renewables, along with IslandAgTech and Island Growers Caribbean, won Best Agriculture Project at GTI Awards. GTI or Greening The Islands is an entity that focuses on the work of sustainable green and blue economies.

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  • Prediction: All Marijuana in three years.

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  • Agricultural push

    Mon, 05/24/2021 – 5:29am

    Significant strides are being made in the agricultural sector in this country, with more farmers being trained to ensure that the sector can continue to grow and steps are also being taken to facilitate the export of agricultural products.

    That’s according to Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, who said that in addition to training new farmers, his ministry has been promoting the use of technology in agriculture, to transition the sector from total open field agriculture, and identifying the crops that would do better from the introduction of technology. Weir added that his ministry also successfully launched a medicinal cannabis industry in January of this year, despite being in a shutdown, and is working on a new praedial larceny bill to deal with that worrying problem. In respect of the latter, he said in spite of some setbacks they are close to completing that legislation.

    His comments came yesterday evening as the Barbados Labour Party hosted a virtual mass meeting under the theme ‘Progress Amidst the Challenges’, to celebrate the party’s historic win in 2018.

    “Our work is certainly cut out, but what we have addressed are the critical issues, the major ones, and we still have many more to address. Certainly, my ministry met with several other ministers on Tuesday for us to address issues with sanitary and phytosanitary measures, so that we can make Barbados a world class producer, and be able to export fish and poultry, and at the same time create space for farmers when tourism comes back,” he said.

    According to Weir, while under the former administration agriculture had been ignored and neglected, the present Government has been hard at work ensuring that agriculture advances. So successful have the efforts been, he maintained, that the industry grew by 1.9 per cent last year, the only one to have grown in 2020.

    “The sector had 1.9 per cent growth, and here’s what we did to achieve that… The Government had to introduce a programme under the BERT programme where people would have been retrenched, and we had to find a way to facilitate an income and accommodate those persons. We at the ministry, my team and I, created the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive, which is now known as the FEED programme,” he said.

    He told the virtual audience that the programme, launched in May 2019, has to date trained in the first and second cohorts just over 100 and 200 persons respectively; and the third cohort, which started recently, has 300 participants. Weir said that they have not been able to train the numbers that were intended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said plans are therefore on the cards to ramp up the numbers.

    “In order for us to be able to keep this programme going we have to make sure that farmers are producing as they are given land, and I am pleased to report that of the farmers that we have trained so far, spending less than $500,000, they have been able to generate $1.6 million in production last year,” he said.

    The agriculture minister went on to say that his ministry is working assiduously on the matter of water for farmers. He said that in addition to the work currently being done at River, St. Philip which will provide six million gallons of water, they are also addressing the issue of water availability at the Spring Hall Land Lease Project, with dams being created.

    (JRT)

    Source: BarbadosAdvocate

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  • PM’s caution on food choices
    All food is not good food, says Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and the Caribbean cannot afford to continue spending hundreds of millions of dollars dealing with non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
    She was delivering a prerecorded message as part of a virtual CARICOM Regional Dialogue yesterday, held in preparation for the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit July 26 to 28.
    “We have a rich history of using ground provisions, eating fish and eating things that are generally healthy, but we became sucked in by the glamour and glitz of a world that wants us to eat processed foods and an oversupply of salt and fizzy beverages. As we seek to bring about food security for the region, it is vital that we remember to do it the right way . . . . We need to have food which will decrease the level of expenditure we are being forced to undertake to fight [NCDs] which are regrettably killing too many of our citizens,” she said.
    The keynote speaker was Guyana’s President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who said Caribbean people could not continue to eat third-rate food when it could produce that which was first-rate. He added the region could grow its own healthy food but faced major issues such as climate change.
    Vital role
    Ali said organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) had a vital role to play in this effort, including the establishment of a climate change vulnerability fund.
    “IICA and the FAO has to be our partners in championing this critical fund for the Caribbean region . . . .
    “The preservation, protection and improvement of food systems are pivotal to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). If the Caribbean is to remain committed to the SDGs, it will require greater attention be paid to its food systems, especially
    in terms of food security, combatting climate change and being able to mobilise financing for climate resilience in agriculture,” he said.
    Like Ali, Mottley said it was vital for international partners such as the FAO, World Food Programme and IICA to work with the region, and suggested they provide master class videos to advise, train and teach small farmers in the best ways to grow their crops.
    “Let us work together to make sure their successful crops will nourish our bodies and give us the right sustenance to live long, healthy lives, recognising at the end of the day, if we do not have good food and water, we have no life,” she said. (CA)

    Source: Nation

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  • @TheOGazerts May 18, 2021 6:42 PM “Prediction: All Marijuana in three years.”

    I hope not, because I just enjoyed a wicked soup with some black belly lamb and all the usual local ground provisions.

    Proper. Delicious!!!

    If anybody got a recipe for marijuana soup I beg wunna, please post it here.

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  • I agree with the PM. And we really need to learn again love to eat what we can grow.

    Left over soup for breakfast this morning. When did we come to believe that we have to eat cornflakes and pancakes for breakfast?

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  • @Simple Simon

    Nothing is wrong with eating cereal. It is more about what dominates our diets these days.

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  • Left over steamed pudding yesterday for breakfast. Sliced and fried warm in an oil smeared pan. My own sweet potato, thyme, marjoram, chives. Still working on the peppers but getting there. On Friday it was accompanied by pickled hormone and colorant free, humanely grown chicken from my cousin down the hill. My own cucumber and parsley. Still working on the lime, onion and of course, hot pepper. Getting there, though. Breadfruit from my cousin down the road. My own little tree has sprung up next to the sour sop tree. Going to have to move it.

    Eggplant parmesan with my own eggplant, plum tomatoes and basil.

    Soup with my own cassava, sweet potato, cabbage, carrot, celery, parsley, thyme, marjoram, sweet pepper and squash. Chicken from the cousin. Working on the yam and onion, of course. Cassava dumplings with local flour and sugar.

    Last week, spinach cakes filled with mashed sweet potato and a little salted cod with most of the salt removed. My own spinach, sweet potato, chives, thyme, marjoram. Eggs from my cousin down the hill.

    Pigeon pea rice with my own pigeon peas. Rice not from the USA but ALWAYS GUYANA. My own herbs. Stir fried chinese cabbage, radish, carrot, celery, cabbage, sweet pepper – all my own. No room for my kale.

    Tossed salad with lettuce, cucumber and tomato – all mine.

    Proper local pork gravy with my own sage, dill and cherry tomato and other herbs.

    Cou cou made with my own okra and corn meal from GUYANA. Locally caught kingfish or dolphin.

    Banana bread with my own banana. Soon sour sop ice blocks and punch with my own sour sop.

    Washing down with my own coconut water.

    This is my recent menu and just some of what is planned for this week.

    P.S. My pancakes are make with local cassava flour and served with local pancake syrup. Soon with a little honey from my hive. Goes well with my own lemon grass tea. I am working on the ginger.

    Maybe I’ll learn to do mango chutney with my own mangoes and mango wine.

    Got loads of aloe so got to find a way to use that.

    Old almond tree firing up again. I thought she was past it

    No problem. Everyting irie!

    Now I am hungry.

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  • Ooops! Forgot my one of my favourites! Spiced beets a la Carmeta with my own beets!

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  • Did I post to the wrong blog? One of my posts is missing.

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  • @Donna

    It was diverted to the moderation folder for whatever reason. Now released.

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  • Very interesting

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  • I planted sweet potatoes, okras and pumpkin last week, and this week. I had to provide a little artificial irrigation last week, but there was a one hour rainfall on Sunday afternoon, and light showers every night since then so he sweet potato slips are beginning to hold up their heads/establish themselves. The cassava which was damaged by the volcanic ash–the damage was not apparent immediately–has never-the-less survived, and they are all producing new leaves now that is has begun to rain so I am hopeful. I will plant some carrots next week. I’ve planted some plum tomatoes and bok choi at home again, and the herbs from last year, parsley, garlic and sweet basil [although I may plant a new batch of basil] are still producing more that enough for me and my immediate extended family, 8 people in all. I still have some cassava flour and some frozen bok choi and frozen grated cassava left from last season.

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  • The one hour shower did wonders for my garden.

    Looking forward to regular rain as is forecast for this week.

    Finally conquered hot peppers on the third try. Growing them in pots of peat moss and shielding them from the high winds. Marjoram and thyme coming along nicely as well this time around.
    Must be careful not to over water. Finally found marjoram seeds. Easier to grow from seed, it seems.

    Most herbs, vegetables, root crops and fruits doing quite well except for the yam, the leaves of which kept getting black around the edges. I pulled it up. Still struggling with the zucchini plants and the fungus. Pulled them up too. Cauliflower and broccoli not bearing, . Didn’t do enough research on them before I planted. They are rather particular about their conditions. Onions didn’t thrive. Very small.

    My most annoying pest at present (apart from the white fungus) is the leaf miner, though the worms seem to be making a gradual comeback. There does not seem to be much you can do about the leaf miner. It tends not to kill the plant, just several leaves. I remove the damaged leaves every day.

    The pruning, manure and watering has the old sour sop tree awash with fruit. Going to try making punch and ices as my mother used to do. Mango tree is winding down. The fruit are really sweet, as usual. Got a great big hand of bananas to reap this week. Had a few honey dew melons but the sugar baby and cantalope are yet to be conquered.

    So, crops still to be conquered – yam, cauliflower, broccoli, sugar baby, cantalope, onion, zucchini.

    Not giving up.

    It’s been hard work growing without the rain.

    Next year, it is a BIG tank of rain water and drip irrigation for me. And plenty of mulch.

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  • Slashing Caricom food bill ‘possible’
    REDUCING THE CARIBBEAN’s food import bill by 2025 is possible.
    Chief executive officer of the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) Dr Gavin Peters believes more must also be done to improve the quality of the food produced in the region.
    He made these points yesterday during CAHFSA’s inaugural symposium where he urged more CARICOM countries to ensure that their pesticide control units visited markets regularly to test the pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables.
    During the online event, he said they were seeking to reduce the region’s estimated US$6 billion food import bill by 25 per cent, which would amount to about US$1.25 billion.
    CARICOM member states hope to reach this target by 2025.
    “We are saying if we are to reduce the food import bill, we have to produce the food safely along the value chain, applying the technology that we know and the good agricultural practices that can guarantee that when the food is produced, it can be traded easily without any issues. I firmly believe we need to focus on this area.
    “There are residue levels, be it chemical or microbiological . . . and in how many
    countries do your pesticide control boards or departments go to the markets, collect a sample of our fruits and vegetables, and have them tested for residue levels?” he asked.
    Guidelines
    “Maybe one to three do that, but this should be the norm among the region and our agricultural-producing countries and this is what CAHFSA will endeavour to emphasise,” Peters said.
    Peters, who was recently appointed as CEO of CAHFSA, said those measures, setting guidelines to improve and maintain good sanitary and phytosanitary practices would make up their mandate over the next two years.
    “At every turn we will promote food safety because it is linked to every aspect that we do. Everything we do comes back to food safety; it impacts at the national level, our budgets as it relates to health, some of the diseases we grapple with and it relates to how we produce our food, so promotion of food safety would be a very important aspect of our work.
    “So we will work to implement the guidelines to produce safe, quality products if we are to be successful in reducing the food import bill,” he added. (TG)

    Source: Nation

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  • Just had my first pomegranate off one of my trees.

    Delicious! EVERYTHING I grow is delicious just like the food I ate as a child.

    Don’t know what these people do with their crops but I was thinking my sense of taste was going early..

    Now I know it was the crops. Tasteless!

    I wonder what causes that.

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  • I planted my second crop of bok choi this weekend and have one mustard bush left. I kept one rapini for seed and planted some sweet potatoes in their place. I had to replant my okras. We got some cold weather after I planted and they froze and rotted. This weekend I planted the Indian extra long variety and some red ones. The red ones turn green when cooked but are pretty in the garden, like sorrel. My Irish potatoes are flowering so in 6 weeks I can start eating them up. Ihad to replant my pole beans, the chip mounts and red squirrels feasted on them. They are now up, so I am happy. My garlics and Mediterranean onions are about 3 ft. tall. I cut the scapes off the garlic on the weekend and have been eating them. I put some in the batch of seasoning I made this week. My ginger is not doing well. The ground is too cold. I will continue to plant it in pots. The apple tree is laden so too the berry bushes. The asparagus is finished and I bought 5 roots to plant in some bare spots in the patch. I am also starting some seeds in a pot but it takes 3 years before you can harvest any and then only those spears larger than a lead pencil. these roots are two years old, so I can harvest next year.

    I have 5 pumpkins from last year left. I have banana leaves and grated coconut in the freezer. I bought some sweet potatoes today and am planning a batch of conkies.

    The Caribbean pumpkins did not do well because of the cold snap. So I replanted butternut. The callaloo is thriving as well as the rhubard. I made three small rhubard pies tonight and already ate half of one. I am giving two to my toy boy for his Dad who is now in a retirement home. He has a one bedroom apartment with kitchenette and separate living room. He has friends there who were RCMP as well so his social life is not bad but he misses the house.

    It is sugar apple season. We get them from Brazil. Sweet for days. I saw them last week and so far have only managed to get 4. They cost 4.99 at one store and 3.99 at another. They don’t last, you have to buy multiples when you see them and refrigerate. I got a breadfruit yesterday. That thing is so sweet it reminded me of the graveyard breadfruits my grand mother used to pick from the Nichols Cemetery in Hillswick. I ate it with olive oil and pepper sauce. Refuse to spoil it with gravy or meat. hahaha

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  • Planted some pumpkins on Wednesday.
    Planted 400 feet of carrots today, two different kinds.
    The yams are beginning to sprout.
    All of the plants are happy about the rain which occurred before daybreak on Thursday morning.

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  • Looks like we three are all doing very well!

    Not a whole lot of visits to the market!

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  • More wonderful showers!

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  • I hope you ladies did not get any damage. Up in St. Joseph a veranda roof was blown off and banana trees fell.

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  • The houses that were damaged probably were not in good condition to begin with.

    I found a few green mangoes on the ground. That was the extent of my “damage”.

    Picked the mangoes up and googled what to do with them.

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  • Thanks Dame. But no damage, except that a few cassava plants that are now leaning this way and that.

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  • More wonderful showers! My plants are going to look really good in the morning.

    Actually found a small cantalope yesterday. Of the melons, there is only sugar baby left to be conquered!

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  • Keeping my fingers crossed for a very healthy looking sugar baby vine I have planted. Gotta watch out for the leaf miner although she seems to be taking a break after having passed the baton to the tobacco worm or caterpillar. They are eating my hot pepper plants and even the hot peppers. I did not know they could do that. I am checking my plants every few hours, especially in the early evening.

    But the rain has done wonders for all my plants. And there is not much for me to do but admire.

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  • I got good drainage. No sweat!

    Liked by 1 person

  • People all wunna betta tek de weather systems serious.

    ” a tropical
    depression or storm is likely to form during the next day or two “

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  • A depression or storm is bearable in my circumstances. It is the hurricanes that cause the trouble.

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  • I hope you are all safe and your gardens survived. Hope your crops were lost and that you can replant if necessary.

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  • ‘hope your crops were NOT lost’. My error.

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  • The plants at home were battered by the wind and heavy rain but may recover. This year’s crop of pears which ripen in October is mostly lying on the ground under the tree. I haven’t checked at the “plantation” yet. Will do so on Saturday.

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  • I hope when you go to the plantation everything is okay. Sorry about your pears. I will behaving a bumper crop of apples this year. If you were near…. Mine are the original red delicious, not the genetically engineered Monsanto apples that have a bright all over red skin, tough like plastic and with saw dust on the inside. lol.

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  • FARMERS FLOORED

    Many reeling after Hurricane Elsa damages crops
    By Sheria Brathwaite

    sheriabrathwaite@nationnews.com

    Hurricane Elsa wreaked havoc on crops, and some small farmers have reported significant losses and damages to their properties.
    But instead of dwelling on how much they have lost, they salvaged what they could and were out yesterday selling what they had.
    Strong winds robbed one farmer of 80 per cent of his main crop – bananas – and decimated an entire field of cauliflower belonging to another.
    “The majority of the bananas were still young; they were at halfway stage. Water flooded some young melon plants and affected some tomatoes I had planted too, so I am just hoping for the best,” said Winston Alexander, who cultivates a four-acre plot at Spring Hall, St Lucy.
    “I just came down to sell whatever I could to keep the workers paid,” he said.
    Dennis “Eddie” Edwards, who sells eggs at the Barbados Association of Vendors, Retailers and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN) market along the Mighty Grynner Highway, reported his losses.
    Paling damaged
    As he cleaned the eggs at the side of his van, he said: “About 60 per cent of the paling on the coop was damaged.
    “I also lost 65 chicks at two weeks old; the sheets blew off where some of them were at and the egg house got damaged,” the Duke’s Tenantry, St Thomas farmer also added.
    “Right now I got some layers home in some sap [muddy water] about two inches deep and I’m here now, being the sole person in terms of the worksite. So they are waiting till I get home. I hope they don’t get sick or die.”
    Edwards, who rears 700 layers at one time, said he had to choose between dealing with the mess or making sales.
    “When I left home there was no electricity or water and that is why I lost those chicks too. If the current was on I could have dropped two heat bulbs and give them that warmth but without
    the electricity I couldn’t do that.
    “I even had a 350-gallon tank on top the pen and before the weather system I filled it, but a galvanised sheet hit the pipe that brings water to the pen and when I checked there was not a drop of water in the tank.
    “So when I left home they didn’t get any water either, but I can’t do better because it’s only me. When I get home, I will get a chance to fully assess what damages they are and I anticipate I will have to pay a pretty penny because a lot of the [galvanised sheets] twist up and can’t be reused.”
    John Rouse said he lost about 200 heads of lettuce, which is usually sold at $3 per head.
    However, he reported “the water green up my chives and parsley, so they will be bountiful in time for harvest”.
    BARVEN president Alister Alexander said the association decided to open the market because a number of vendors expressed interest.
    At the Cheapside Market in The City, Christopher Padmore said he had to put his “hustle” before his losses.
    “The rain done my whole cauliflower crop; I had one acre planted and that was my main crop,” he said. “I didn’t get a chance to [put a figure on] my losses; I got to deal with that tomorrow but this type of thing happens in farming and you have to take losses.
    “Although I had no water or electricity and got to face the crop damage, I still had to come out and sell. ’Cause if I stay home, who is going to pay my bills? Or who is going to support my children?
    “I couldn’t stand home; I couldn’t deal with that right now. I had to put that aside and think about making money.”
    Vending
    A few trays down from him, Frederick Barrow, who cultivates land in Kirton’s, St Philip, was selling pumpkin, cassava, sweet potato and other ground provisions.
    Barrow said every time a weather system passed he was at a disadvantage.
    “I didn’t go in the ground; I will do so tomorrow (today) but I was too frightened to go in and
    see the damage,” he said. “I done know the cucumbers and tomatoes probably flood ’way but this is an every year something, so I done expect these things to happen.”
    On Friday, Hurricane Elsa dumped between six to eight inches of rain on Barbados and packed sustained winds of 60 to 87 miles per hour.


    Source: Nation

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  • @Dame Bajans July 3, 2021 11:59 AM

    Thank you. This is life. We have to take the bitter with the sweet.

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  • Dairy farms forced to dump milk
    DAIRY AND POULTRY FARMERS are among those suffering the ill effects of Hurricane Elsa since last Friday.
    Chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, said no milk was collected by the Pine Hill Dairy (PHD) on Friday.
    “We also have a situation where the lack of electricity could affect their capacity to store milk as it has to be stored before it is collected and at the right temperature,” he said on Saturday. “They also need power to operate the milk machines but, in most cases, they should have everything under control.”
    One dairy farmer told the
    DAILY NATION: “[Friday] the milk truck didn’t come out so farmers that would have had milk from Thursday, unless they had an ice bank cooler that they could hold it for some time, that milk would have had to be tested.
    “They (PHD) came [Saturday] morning and tested the milk in our cooler but the truck didn’t come and we didn’t hear back from them about the quality of the samples. In some cases, farmers couldn’t wait that long and they
    dumped the milk . . . .”
    Paul said some small-scale poultry farmers were also impacted.
    “Everybody doesn’t have the capacity to build shelters for all of the animals, especially in the poultry industry. Some of the roofs have been compromised. In one case, I know of a small farmer who lost about 200 chicks out of about 800,” he said. (SB)

    Source: Nation

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  • Some green mangoes I did not know I had were blown off. Going to put them to use. Sour sops mostly still attached.

    My okra plants lost a few blossoms. Had to straighten them up, also the cassava, tomatoes, bananas and basil all of which were leaning slightly.

    No real damage. Not even a puddle was left after the rain stopped.

    Good drainage.

    The rain has done wonders for my parsley which I find difficult to grow.

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  • We had a day of rain yesterday and I did not go out to refill the bird feeder. I swear when they flew in and say it empty, the noise and cacaphony from them were cussings. hahaha. Today I pulled 4 garlics and they are as big as my head. I will harvest the remainder on the weekend.

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  • Dame Bajans,

    You are lucky they aren’t Bajan birds!

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  • Donna, it needs filling up again but I was busy making pudding and souse. The birds came up to my patio door and looked in and stood there until I saw them. Talk about bold.

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  • We had heavy rains last night and some wind. Woke up this morning to find the apple tree split down the middle and my clothes line on the ground. No damage to structures.

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  • Dame Bajans,

    Sorry about the apple tree. Was that your only one?

    P.S. The birds are very smart. I figure they think since you made them too lazy to hunt and forage, you owe them their meals.

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  • Hants,

    Bought the cherry tree yesterday, also guava and golden apple. The young lady will deliver the avocado when I’m ready.

    Gotta whip up my enthusiasm again for everything, though. Sometimes all efforts seem futile when you look at the terrible mess the world is in. And Barbados in particular, moneywise.

    But… here it is that I was too tired to water the crops this morning and as I was trying to get up the energy to do so now, the rain came, in defiance of the forecast.

    Now all I have to do is transplant the lovely marjoram my neighbour gave me.

    Perfect!

    Like

  • @Dame Bajans July 14, 2021 3:18 PM “We had heavy rains last night and some wind. Woke up this morning to find the apple tree split down the middle”

    Did lightning struck the apple tree?

    Another 50 or so of my avocados fell off the tree, I guess their stems had been damaged by Elsa. Still a few hundred on the tree though.

    All is well at the “plantation” cassava, sweet potatoes, okras, pumpkins and yams are doing well. A few peppers too. The carrots did not thrive so we’ve started to rework that bed and may plant peppers next week.

    At home the monkeys are all 5 of the soursops that were on the tree.
    Monkeys: 5
    Me: 0

    Like

  • The spinach at home is doing bountifully. I cooked some today with carrots, onions, herbs, rice and salt fish. Delish.

    Like

  • Cuhdear Bajan,

    Do your sour sops have white stuff on them? My rasta cousin says they all do but I seem to recall beautiful, green, unblemished soursops I felt proud to give away because I don’t really like them.

    I wouldn’t give these ones away.

    Like

  • No they do not.

    Might be white fly on your cousin’s. He/she might want to try an insecticidal soap. Ask at a garden store.

    I love soursops, just the right mix of sweet, sour and creamy.

    Like

  • ” For the past three years, small farmer Richard Bourne has been losing thousands of dollars’ worth of crops to monkeys.
    Bourne, who cultivates just over a quarter-acre of land in Belair, St George, said his problems worsened from the start of the year and he was at his wits’ end.
    Bourne said he tried laying newspaper in between the beds, erecting scarecrows and hanging reflective disks and crocus bags over the crops, but nothing seemed to be working. (Video by Shanice King) #MeAndMyNation #YourNewsYourTimeYourWay #TheSourceMatters #NationBarbados #Barbados #BarbadosNews #Farming #Agriculture #Monkeys

    Like

  • Cuhdear Bajan,

    Must be the whitefly on mine also then. I knew my sour sops used to be green and pretty.

    Like

  • Hants,

    Keeley said to call the hotline.

    One man up this side had success with a guttaperk.

    My friend, a former extention officer knows a farmer who sorts his crops and gives those he cannot sell to the monkeys.

    They leave his crops alone.

    Other farmers sow outer beds specifically for the monkeys. They don’t waste a lot of time tending them. The monkeys seem to understand that the beds are theirs and do not trouble the other beds.

    Monkeys are smart. I spoke nicely to the two who were taking my mangoes. They did not bring back the rest to raid me. They ate a few and that was all. I hear they do damage all around me. Even a literal stone’s throw away.

    We’ll see how long my luck holds.

    Like

  • Donna, I had two apple trees but one was growing over and blocking the sun from the backyard garden, so I had it removed about 5 years ago.

    Cudhear: I know there was rain and I went up at 10:30, early for me and slept like a baby. My girlfriend said there was thunder and lightning and high winds. I slept through it all. Soursops are selling here for $5 a pound. I always buy a small one. I eat half and make punch with the other half. This week big ass pawpaws are $4.99 each. They weigh between 2 and 3 pounds. Thing is, they so big they get pappy before I can finish one.

    There is Brer Rabbit who comes to my yard every evening. I think he lives under the neighbours shed. He eats what has fallen from the bird feeder, tops it up with a grass dessert, then he stretches out under the apple tree as though he is at Miami Beach. My girlfriend sits here and watches the animals and laughs and tells me they own the place, that I am only minding it for them. If I go outside to put kitchen scraps in the composters, he does not even move. There was a time when I used to catch them in the garden and eat them but a former neighbour saw when I brought one in and said they are protected and my son cried and said I was cruel to kill the bunny, but he still ate it.

    I picked a bag of Bajan spinach this weekend. The leaves were the size of grape leaves. I mean the seaside grapes from home. I am thinking of mixing up some fritters with spinach tonight and putting it in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow.

    I made pectin today with some of the fallen green apples. The rest went out at the curb on the branches for the recycling and garden waste pickup. the must from the pectin was sweet. had I know the apples were not acidic I would have made some apple butter. Anyhow, the half that is standing still needs more thinning so I will do that soon and use them for preserves. Made ribena with some of my black currants yesterday. Delicious and nothing like what we were fed in Barbados to take to school for lunch.

    Like

  • David, that is already being done on the top of some of toronto’s sky scrapers. In the 70’s we had a roof top garden, with benches, chairs and gazebos on top of our office building. I used to eat my lunch up there and you could reserve it for retirement parties. Several other buildings in the vicinity followed.

    Like

  • @Dame

    Using technology is the way to go. The traditional approaches will not appeal to this generation.

    Like

  • Amber fish plentiful but sales slow

    https://www.nationnews.com/2021/07/21/amber-fish-plentiful-sales-slow/

    I bet pig tail, chicken wings and pork sales ent slow doh.

    Like

  • @Hants

    The Amber fish is not popular, not sure the reason.

    Like

  • Dame Bajans,

    So you can salvage the apple tree still?

    You seem to be doing great with your garden produce. You remind me of the grandmother of Cynthia Wilson in her book “Whispering of the Trees”. You have taken your ways from old time Barbados with you. They did not fail then and they would not fail now, if only more of us would practise them, as was the case back then.

    Like

  • @ David,
    I don’t know why Amber fish are not popular but Bajans does season fish in a way that could make any fish taste good.

    Like

  • @Hants, amber fish or amber jacks are sweet when they are small. If they reduce the price they will fly out the market. We used to catch them with the casting net at Bathsheba and Cattlewash. I buy them up here but only the small ones.

    @Donna, I am hoping to save the half of the tree that is remaining. Nothing goes to waste here. Even the old callaloo that has started to seed, my Chinese neighbour takes to make soup. I give the sweet potato leaves to a lady from Congo, it is a vegetable to them, but I draw the line at they cutting my pumpkin and squash leaves. I plant my beans to the back of the allotment as they eat those leaves too.

    Like

  • Dame Bajans,

    You should be teaching classes on youtube.

    Like

  • Donna I am too old for that. I prefer, in my time off, to sit and watch the life in my back yard.

    Like

  • Dame Bajans,

    I fully understand. Pity though.

    Like

  • This morning the okras are in bloom. Okra flowers are so beautiful. Okras ready to eat a week from today.

    Like

  • @Hants July 21, 2021 11:24 AM “Amber fish plentiful but sales slow”

    Got some from the Weston “Millie Ifill” fish market last week.

    I don’t eat much fried food but one day I felt like fish and chips so I had fried amberfish and chips.

    On another two days, cou-cou, steamed amberfish, sweet potato, coleslaw and coconut water.

    Life sweet.

    Like

  • @Dame Bajans July 19, 2021 8:26 PM “I used to catch them in the garden and eat them.”

    How do you catch a wild rabbit. Aren’t they kind of fast?

    When I was little, about 6 or 7 my big brother used to keep rabbits, I thought they were cute and used to hand feed them “rabbit meat”/Emilia Fosbergii which I picked from the hedgerows and gullies, small farmers did not use much herbicides in those days. One day I came home from school and there was rabbit stew. I could not eat it. I was traumatized for life. Decades later one of my children went shopping and bought a rabbit. That thing stayed in the back of the freezer for about two years before I got my courage up and confessed that I could not eat the cute little bunny…still can’t.

    Like

  • @David July 21, 2021 11:27 AM “The Amber fish is not popular, not sure the reason.”

    Seasoned the traditional way, then teamed with onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers, a little mustard, and a little cooking oil, it tastes just like salmon.

    Bajans missing out on a sweet treat.

    Like

  • I saw someone making a salad out of the banana blossom. I grew up with banana trees in the yard and the blossoms were wasted.

    https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/what-is-banana-blossom

    Sending a local to the Far East to gather recipes related to ‘fruits’ in Barbados may be a good national investment

    Like

  • Cuhdear Bajan,

    I can’t eat them either. Too cute. Look like pets.

    Like

  • Hahaha, pets indeed. My friend’s Dad said he had not eaten rabbit since he left the farm in 1955. We bought one for $25 and I fricassied it for him. He thought he had died and gone to heaven.

    Cudhear, they are easy to catch. When they finish with your veggies, tulips and gladiolas, they like to stretch out in the shade and relax. that is when I grab them. They may be fast, but I am faster. They taste much better than the farmed ones you buy in the store. Growing up, my uncle raised rabbits and we never considered them pets, but food.

    On another topic a cousin of mine went into he hospital on Sunday and died last night. She had been attending the doctors and hospital for about 8 years with her stomach. Vomiting black (which means blood) but the geniuses down there could not find anything wrong. Even did an endoscopy and said they did not see anything. Well she started vomiting again last Friday and they told the family she was bleeding internally, had a stroke and was brain dead.
    Are there no MRI machines at the QEH? Did I not read that Rhianna donated some, or is it that the staff is not trained to operate and read the results?

    Like

  • @Dame Bajans July 28, 2021 1:56 PM. “They may be fast, but I am faster.”

    Ooookkkkk!!!

    Like

  • @Dame Bajans July 28, 2021 1:56 PM “On another topic a cousin of mine went into he hospital on Sunday and died last night.”

    I am so sorry to hear about the death of your cousin.

    About the hospital’s equipment, I truly do not know.

    Like

  • Cudhear:

    Her sister called me last night. It was not cancer and from what she said they did a scan, so I stand corrected. She had a melanoma at 36 removed from her privates, so we always think cancer. She is very fair, liked to fish and is probably how she developed it. However, this time it started with a bad headache, followed by vomiting. She phoned the sister and told her she had a headache, was not feeling well and would not be going to work. This was friday. Saturday there was no change and she refused when the sister wanted to take her to the Dr. Sunday the partner came home and found her unresponsive in the bed in the same position he had left her in and called the Ambulatory service. I am no Dr. She apparently had bleeding on the brain which formed a clot and she suffered a stroke. It seems to me she may have had an aneurism. Even up here if they are not caught early there is no survival. Apparently the most dangerous is an aortic aneurism. I had a Guyanese friend who died from an aneurism. She collapsed in college with a bad headache, they sent her to the hospital and she died two days later.

    Like

  • Dame Bajans,

    Sorry to hear about your cousin.

    Like

  • Thanks Donna. I cant come but I have forwarded some $$ to help with the expenses. She was also my god daughter.

    Like

  • Dame Bajans,

    You do what you can these days.

    Like

  • A surprise move – Minister Weir

    Article by Randy Bennett
    Published on
    July 31, 2021

    The decision by Pinnacle Feeds Limited to substantially increase the price of animal feeds from next month is not sitting well with Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir.

    In fact, Weir has suggested that Government might have to start looking for additional suppliers if a compromise is not reached.

    His comments have come following reports that Pinnacle Feeds was planning to hike the price of animal feeds by 26 per cent beginning August 1.

    In a letter addressed to Weir dated July 28, chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul indicated that he had been made aware of the pending price hike.

    Paul said Pinnacle Feeds claimed the move was necessary due to the sustained increase in the price of corn on the world market.

    As a result, Paul cautioned that the prices of chicken and other meat products would also increase.

    But speaking to members of the media this morning on the sidelines of a groundbreaking for a new housing project in Rices, St Philip, Weir said he was surprised at the decision taken by Pinnacle.

    He said the news that there would be increases in the price of livestock feeds had come as a shock.

    “To be very honest with you this has taken me by surprise so I have to tell you up front that I am not yet aware of any increases simply because we met with all the stakeholders including Pinnacle and the Government has essentially agreed to put a price support mechanism in place and that is to be carried out. It was done based on the numbers that were given to us by Pinnacle so this is not something that we pull from the sky. We are monitoring the movements in the price of grains and certainly the conversation has to be ongoing…

    “I am surprised to note that the media has been able to put out a story and equally surprised to know that it is already in the press simply because these are matters that we discuss at ministry level with all of our stakeholders, the poultry farmers, the dairy farmers, pig farmers and indeed the feed supplier,” Weir said.

    He pointed out that the ministry would be engaged in discussions with Pinnacle Feeds and he hoped that an amicable resolution could be agreed.

    However, the minister said should those discussions not prove fruitful Government may have to consider other feed suppliers.

    “If it comes down to a case where the movement in the price of grains is such that Pinnacle itself does not feel the confidence in the Government and so they must increase their prices then we may have to look at how we may trigger other things to buffer what is taking place.

    “As a businessman I was never, ever in my entire business career comfortable with one supplier of anything, so we may now have to look and see how we can sit down with Pinnacle and determine what the future is going to be. With all due respect to them, we have to talk and then we will take it from there,” Weir said.

    (randybennett@barbadostoday.bb)

    Like

  • Why cant the Department of Agriculture import the feed, set up a shop and sell it to farmers at cost? Many, many moons ago my grandfather used to go to some govt. facility to buy fertilizers for the canes.

    Like

  • FEED HIKE HALTED
    Manufacturer shelves price increase after talks with Weir
    By Colville Mounsey
    colvillemounsey@nationnews.com
    The decision by Barbados’ lone livestock feed manufacturer, Pinnacle Feed, to increase the cost of its products by 26 per cent from August 1, has been shelved pending talks between the company and Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir on Friday.
    Yesterday, Weir told the Sunday Sun that he spoke with the directors of Pinnacle Feed, voicing his concern that the company had taken steps to introduce such an industry-altering hike in the cost of their products.
    This move was likely to result in a significant rise in meat and poultry.
    Weir disclosed that the move had caught him by surprise given that Cabinet had already tabled a proposal for a $2 million livestock feed subsidy. He said it was only a matter of coming to an agreement with the company over how the mechanisms would be triggered.
    ‘Taken aback’ “We would have discussed this only two or three months before and we were able to work with Cabinet to come up with a solution. I was taken aback by this thing that just suddenly went into place, so I had to speak to Pinnacle about it, and while I am not going to go into all of the details of the discussion, I know that they have agreed now to pull back that increase on August 1 and we would look to finalise our discussions on August 6, at which time there is hopefully a solution,” said Weir.
    The minister said he had already given his commitment to stakeholders several months ago to
    work on a solution to the rising cost of corn, suggesting that the feed manufacturer might have jumped the gun before mitigation measures were finalised.
    “My Permanent Secretary and I had to strategise how we are going to deal with the stakeholders and Pinnacle in order to go to Cabinet to address the matter. You can’t send me a letter somewhere around mid-July and by August 1 the price is going up by 26 per cent. This is something which I have made very clear to Pinnacle. I have also made my position very clear that if I gave a commitment to stakeholders to sit and discuss any trending increase in the price of grain, then I would expect that with all due respect that would happen so that we can work together,” he added.
    The Weekend Nation broke the story on Friday about the pending hike in feed prices, putting consumers on notice to brace for a domino-effect rise in prices of meat and poultry products In a letter sent from the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) to Weir, it was explained that the hike in feed prices was the “result of sustained increase in the price of corn on the world markets from a $3.50 per bushel to a maximum of $7.00.
    The letter further stated that they have received reports that the spot price was already $6.54 per bushel, still way above the average price of corn. In the letter to the minister, which was signed by BAS’ chief executive officer James Paul, it was further stated that those high feed prices were not likely to just be transitory, but rather a new normal.
    “The reports received on crop expectations in Brazil and the USA are not providing any comfort to the livestock industry, with dry conditions continuing in the USA Northern Plains and parts of the Corn Belt, just as a cold front moves into Brazil. The outlook is not good and it does appear a new normal is being established. Consequently, we have met with our farmers and our stakeholders in the industry, who are of the view that the price of chicken and other meat products will increase as a result of the increased price of feed,” the correspondent stated.
    However, Weir said the rising price of corn, a major ingredient of livestock feed, was a situation which Government had been monitoring and contemplating for sometime and now it was a matter of finding consensus on the way forward among the stakeholders.
    “There was always a mechanism in place to assist with this situation and I don’t know why the conversation has been structured otherwise. The Government and the Cabinet of Barbados in principle looked at a $2 million price support for the farmers and it was just a question of how those funds were going to be drawn down and the process through which Pinnacle would have to submit in order to be able to get access to those funds. That process went in place and to my mind it is to be pursued, but somewhere along the
    line and to my surprise I learnt in the press that Pinnacle was going ahead with a 26 per cent increase,” he said, noting that such a move had the potential to seriously hurt the livestock sector.


    Source: Nation

    Like

  • Sorry to hear about your cousin Dame Bajans. I trust that she did not suffer much pain. Aneurisms are scary. A 30 year old collegue of mine was there on Friday evening, fit as a fiddle when we said our weekend goodbyes. Gone by Saturday morning. It shook me up. Taught me again, to be kind to others, because this moment may be the last moment to do an act of kindness.

    Like

  • Cuhdear, I dont think she even knew what was happening. When she went to the QEH, they found bleeding on the brain and blood clots. So it must have happened when her partner was as work. the Drs. told the two children that she was severely brain damaged and they did not think she would make it as she was unresponsive. I don’t think she suffered, if the brain is dead, you most likley feel nothing. Your family in the medical field would probably explain it. She was a beautiful person, never gossiped, never listened to gossip about others, was good to everyone, kind and generous.

    Like

  • The sweet potatoes have started to flower, so I expect to begin eating them by late September early October.

    Like

  • Dame Bajans,

    It sounds like your goddaughter/cousin will be greatly missed.

    Always hard to lose a loved one, especially someone like you described. But at least her memory will bring smiles, eventually.

    Like

  • Govt to aid farmers

    Weir seeking alternatives to feed price hike
    by SHERIA BRATHWAITE sheriabrathwaite@nationnews.com
    GOVERNMENT is promising to help worried farmers after Pinnacle Feeds, the island’s lone livestock feed manufacturer, raised the prices of its product from yesterday.
    Despite trying to hold off a price hike, Pinnacle said it was forced to make the move, but Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir told the DAILY NATION yesterday he would meet with officials from the feed company tomorrow and there were alternative strategies at play to assist livestock farmers.
    According to the new price list, poultry and pig farmers will be hardest hit. In some cases, the price has gone up by almost $10 for both pig and chicken feed.
    A broiler farmer will now pay $52.98 (per 30-kilogramme bag) for broiler finisher 17 per cent, up from $43.44, while a pig farmer has to fork out $52.70 (per 30kg bag) for pig starter, up from $43.32.
    President of the Barbados Beef and Dairy Producers’ Association, Annette Beckett, said the increase was drastic and had serious implications for operational costs.
    “Our main feed goes up to just under $7 a bag,” she said. “Some of our farmers have started to calculate, and in some
    cases they will need $5 000 or $6 000 more a month. In other cases for the bigger farmers, they will need like $30 000 to $40 000 a month. So it is drastic; we are talking about 75 per cent of what we feed the cows.”
    In a paid advertisement on Sunday, director of the Lower Estate, St Michael company, Jason Sambrano, said the prices would increase due to unprecedented hikes in raw material and freight costs globally.
    “This was an incredibly difficult decision . . . . However, this decision had to be made,” stated Sambrano, who is also managing director of Roberts Manufacturing, the parent company. “The continued increase in raw materials costs and freight are beyond our ability to continue to offset, and as such, a price adjustment will be put in place from August 9, 2021. At that date, the average price increase to our feed will be 19 per cent, which is the minimum increase needed to keep our manufacturing operations sustainable.”
    In the July 30 Weekend Nation, chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, had warned of a likely price increase of local agricultural products as feed prices were expected to go up.
    In a letter dated July 28, the BAS wrote to the Minister of Agriculture informing that Pinnacle was going to increase its prices by an average of 26 per cent on August 1, due to the increased price of grain on the world market.
    Weir said he wanted to meet with officials from Pinnacle “so we can finalise the option that I proposed to them”, adding he would then speak in detail about it.
    “There are several alternatives that one may consider. There are people now who are asking about importing feed in order that they may be able to distribute it at a lower price and then there are other options on the table.
    “But overall, what would happen is that Barbadian livestock farmers would not be placed in a position where they don’t have options,” he said.
    The minister explained that these “alternative strategies” had to be devised as the $2 million livestock feed subsidy was no longer the ideal as Pinnacle had gone ahead and increased its prices.
    “It would not be in place once the price of feed has gone up.”
    Sambrano said the price support was just a temporary fix, as it was only going to be provided from May to July this year.
    President of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers’ Association, Stephen Layne, said he was concerned that the increases would eventually lead to major players dropping out of the sector. He added his association was writing a report to the minister.
    “Some of them have already gone out of business and if we don’t find a resolution to this, more would go out of business and a significant number of losses in jobs as well,” he said. “We have hired a consultant to look at the increases and the impact it will have on us and then we would go back to the minister.
    “Obviously, the prices have to go up but increasing the price of poultry at this time will have an impact on society, but the reality is that it is having a serious impact on the poultry farmers, something that they cannot bear.”
    Beckett said it would not be easy for them to pass on the increase as the milk price depended on regulations at the Pine Hill Dairy.

    Source: Nation

    Like

  • Cotton harvest high

    Promising yield, but lockdown, ash fall, weather take toll
    by SHERIA BRATHWAITE sheriabrathwaite@nationnews.com
    BARBADOS REAPED 30 000 pounds of cotton from this year’s harvest, the best yield in the last five years, but the bounty could have been much bigger were it not for bad weather, the COVID-19 lockdown and volcanic ash fall.
    Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) agronomist Nyah Nyhathu reported that the 185 acres cultivated produced the highest yield since the 54 000 pounds from 320 acres in 2016.
    “We had marginal success because of some major disruptions – the lockdown, the ash fall and the weather. They really impacted on us,” he told the MIDWEEK NATION. “The lockdown resulted in the inability of the public to really travel the way we would have liked. Our demographic is mostly older people and they would have been advised to do as limited movement as possible.
    “Then the cotton would have been impacted by the ash fall, causing discolouration, and the dust affected the workers as well. The dust was on the leaves and trying to traverse the fields was difficult. People complained of itchiness, burning eyes and it created respiratory problems for people too. Sometimes you have to err on the side of caution and the health concern was a prevalent issue.”
    Nyhathu said several acres of cotton were unharvested due to the conditions, but he could not state how many.
    Initially, the season was to begin in late January but persistent rainfall pushed back the starting time to February. Then there was the national pause from February 3 to 17, with a curfew from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m., in Government’s bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was extended to March 27.
    Ash from eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines followed on April 9.
    However, Nyhathu said certain areas did “tremendously well”.
    “The Ministry of Agriculture grew almost 1 300 pounds to the acre and probably could have done better had it not been for the interruptions. Searles Plantation (Christ Church) also did well.
    “I think the ministry did well because of the high visibility on the highway, plus people who lived nearby would have been better able to go to work and get back home in time for the curfew.
    So a lot of people from Kingsland and Wotton picked there. But overall, we produced a slightly higher yield than last year.”
    The agronomist added that the BAMC was able to increase the island’s acreage from 60 in previous years and started a campaign to get more cotton pickers, but things did not go as expected.
    “We had a good response from the public initially, but transportation was curtailed and we didn’t get people coming into the fields as we hoped. The production of cotton was there, but unfortunately we didn’t have the numbers to come out and assist.
    “Several acres were unharvested, and it is unfortunate but the farmers did their part. The quality was compromised with the ash and the picking conditions were unfavourable. We couldn’t put people in a situation where they were uncomfortable.”
    Nyhathu said this year was a learning experience and in the future the BAMC was hoping to produce more of the fibre.
    When the season started, 300 people had registered to pick cotton after BAMC, through the Barbados Government Information Service,
    announced it was seeking the help of at least 500 pickers.
    After being harvested, cotton is processed at the island’s sole exporter and ginnery, Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean Inc. It buys seed cotton at $4.80 per pound and sells a pound of lint at US$11.80.
    Cotton pickers receive $2 per pound.
    Cotton was harvested from fields at Constant Farm in Dash Valley, St George; Searles Farm, Newton, Christ Church; Mount Pleasant Farm, Parish Land, St Philip; Three Houses Farm, Fortescue, St Philip; Redland Farm, Wakefield, St John; Rock Hall Farm, Four Hill, St Peter; and Bromefield Farm, Harrisons, St Lucy.

    Source: Nation

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  • Farmers in ‘survival mode’

    As Pinnacle Feeds reiterates that it had no choice but to increase the price of feed, affected farmers say they now have to focus on trimming their costs in order to survive.
    From Monday, the island’s lone livestock feed manufacturer raised its offerings by 19 per cent, with some products going up by as much as $10.
    Director of Pinnacle Feeds, Jason Sambrano, in a statement yesterday, said the international prices of grain were just too high and the company could not absorb the cost. He added their last price increase was nine years ago.
    “If one looks at the history of our price adjustments you will see the last increase was in 2012. Then it was followed by three price decreases for the period 2013-2014. So you can see that over the last decade we have actually tried to reduce the price of animal feed and maintain a level of stability within the market in terms of pricing.
    “I think this is testament to show that the company is very responsible in how we approach our pricing strategies and the impact it may have on the Barbadian consumer,” said Sambrano, who is also managing director of Roberts Manufacturing, Pinnacle’s parent company.
    He said key raw materials like corn and soybeans needed to make the various feeds went up by as much as 60 per cent and the company had to weigh its options to benefit staff.
    “Our priority is to continue to maintain our level of employment. We employ over 180 staff members who are working tirelessly to ensure our customers can maintain their inputs,” he added.
    Barbadian were warned by farmers to brace for price increases in poultry and pork products from as early as this weekend due to the feed price hike. Chickens, for example, were estimated to be moving from $4.80 per pound to around $7.
    Sambrano’s comments came after a meeting on Wednesday with top management at Pinnacle Feeds, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir, livestock farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector. Weir had said on Tuesday that his ministry was looking at ways to assist livestock farmers, including exploring a number of options.
    The minister could not be reached yesterday for details on the outcome of that meeting.
    Chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, told the Saturday Sun he was not privy to Wednesday’s meeting, but based on his discussions with representatives of various livestock groups, farmers were trying to implement costcutting strategies.
    “How we are trying to deal with [the price hikes] is engaging in cost minimisation. We have to control costs as much as possible. So we have to look at ways to improve feed conversion or, in other words, more efficient ways of using the feed,” he said. “Water is also a major input, especially for pork and poultry farmers, and we are looking at ways to get the Garbage and Sewage Contribution removed to mitigate the increase of feed.
    “We are also looking to see if the incentive programmes the Ministry of Agriculture have can be used to help farmers in this situation,” Paul added.
    (SB)


    Source: Nation

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  • Poultry options

    Farmers weighing costs after feed price increase

    by CARLOS ATWELL carlosatwell@nationnews.com

    THE BARBADOS EGG AND POULTRY PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION is still weighing its options on raising the price of chicken and eggs after a hike in feed costs last week.
    President Stephen Layne told the
    DAILY NATION yesterday it was not as easy as coming up with a price and enforcing it.
    “We are at the stage of trying to crunch the numbers. It’s been four years since we’ve had an increase in eggs or poultry meat while we have had significant cost increases to our operation . . . but the sector has always persuaded its members to try to evaluate the situation. While it’s obvious there has to be an increase in value, we would need to talk to more of our members first before we make a public statement.
    “The reality of it though is we cannot sit together and discuss and plan a price; the Fair Trading Commission would scoff at that. We don’t have the luxury to come up with the price of what it will cost us going forward. But we will get there very shortly and we will have to make that determination,” he said.
    On August 9, Pinnacle Feeds raised the prices of its products by 19 per cent overall in response to “unprecedented” global hikes in raw material and freight costs. As a result, poultry and pig farmers were hardest hit, with prices in some cases, having gone up by almost $10 for both pig and chicken feed.
    Layne said people were pointing at the poultry sector but remaining silent on other items like fish.
    “Other foods have gone up such as imported fish, but I hear no arguments made about that. It costs a lot of money to produce poultry. Farmers are losing their shirts. We have to make a decision soon about how we are going to survive, but I am still optimistic Government will do the right thing,” he said.
    President of the Barbados Pig Farmers Association, Henderson Williams, said there were plans in the works to offset prices.
    “We had a meeting today (yesterday) between the BAS (Barbados Agricultural Society), the Barbados Pig Farmers Co-op and Hipac Limited. We are
    going to be working on plans to mitigate the increase. One option we are exploring is the bulk buying of feed to reduce the impact of our members where the BAS could arrange a wholesale price with Pinnacle, then sell to our members.
    Intensifying programme
    “We are also looking at intensifying our insemination programme to increase the quality of our pigs while reducing the time it takes for them to grow into maturity, thereby reducing feed use and cost,” he said, adding they were awaiting word from Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir.
    Efforts to reach Weir were unsuccessful.
    Operations manager of Barnwell Farms Ltd in St Thomas, Gay Reed, said feed and water were already major costs and with feed costs rising, it could be the final nail in the coffin for many farmers.
    Meanwhile, president of the Barbados Rabbit Farmers Association, Tempu Nefertari, said the price increase on rabbit feed was not as significant as for poultry and pigs, but they still faced an uphill battle.
    “We don’t really get the price for our meat as we should. Even with supermarkets, we have to drive really hard to get back the money we used for feed inputs. We’ve always tried to supplement our feed to keep prices down but we are hoping with this increase, we may finally get the correct price for rabbit meat,” she said.
    David Waldron, a board member of the association, said input increases meant output increases and “someone will have to absorb it”, adding they may be forced to reduce feed rations to avoid passing on costs.

    Source: Nation

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  • McClean: Farmers deserve better
    ‘Not getting enough from sheep by-products’
    LOCAL FARMERS DESERVE to benefit more from the sale of sheep by-products.
    Consultant with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr Leroy McClean, made that point on Saturday while speaking about the millions of dollars spent to import foreign meats.
    “Right now we import 1.3 million kilos of what they call other meat from sheep, because you can’t call it lamb. A lot of it is from New Zealand and that comes into Barbados at a cost of $14 million a year.
    “When you add the imported meat to what we produce locally. . . the $14 million is just what it costs to land it here in Barbados, but that has nothing to do with the other costs that are added on and the markup. So we can calculate that the actual retail value of lamb in Barbados is close to $30 million. Now, why shouldn’t our farmers be sharing in that?” McClean said.
    He made these comments at the Animal Nutrition Unit, Pine Plantation Road, St Michael where seven sheep were donated to three Barbados 4-H Foundation clubs; Holy Innocents Primary, Ignatius Byer Primary and Weston United Stars Community 4H.
    Has potential
    McClean said the local industry still has potential and urged more young Barbadians to help grow the population of black belly sheep.
    “Today we start a new process because we want to see a black belly sheep industry in Barbados that is beneficial to all of us and that certainly would open up avenues for us as a country. So I would hope that all of you who receive sheep today see it not as a hobby, but something you can turn into something of economic value,” McClean said.
    Secretary of the 4H Foundation Alvin Romeo said that the donation of the sheep was an extension of the ongoing giveback project facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture.
    “Two years ago we received nine ewes and one ram from the Ministry of Agriculture to multiply and to give to the 4H-ers. Today is the first presentation of the offspring of that programme. These seven sheep are being donated to these three 4H clubs so they can multiply and grow,” Romeo said.
    In addition to sheep, seven rabbits were also donated. (TG)

    Source: Nation

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  • Farm workers’ cry
    By John Boyce
    johnboyce@nationnews.com
    Some Barbadian farm labour workers in the United Kingdom (UK) are up in arms about the conditions there.
    A batch of 15 left for Scotland on May 31 for the six-month programme after being recruited by international company Concordia, through Barbadian Cristopher Griffith, who is managing director of CJNM Associates Ltd, an agent with Concordia.
    The UK farm labour programme is now in its second year and Griffith, who resides in England, said it had already expanded to six farms.
    However, some in that batch told the Saturday Sun from their living quarters that conditions at the farms were a far cry from what they were expecting.
    “We were told that we would be paid £500 weekly, and a whole set of other things,” one irate worker said.
    However, Griffith said no weekly totals were calculated, but that they would be paid at a rate of £8 91 pence per hour, though some farms might pay more.
    Another worker lamented that they had to eventually pay for their own transportation to the farm.
    Griffith, however, said that workers were never promised free transportation, adding that unlike on the Canadian Farm Labour Programme, employees had to pay for their travel and accommodation.
    The managing director said that in the interview process, the schedule workers received outlined their terms and conditions.
    However, the complaints did not end there. The disgruntled workers said that on arrival at the farms, their living quarters in caravans cost them £53 per person weekly and “that was never part of the arrangement”.
    They said the caravans, in which up to four people slept, contained mould. One worker said that there were bloodstains on the carpet.
    Bedbugs
    Asking that their names not be used, they said a few of them had to be taken to the hospital because of being bitten by bedbugs in the mattresses.
    “The conditions are ridiculous and we have to walk over 100 metres to get to the bathrooms and showers,” they said, bathrooms which were in “absolutely disgusting condition”.
    After just short of three months, some of the workers have left and booked flights back to Barbados.
    Griffith, however, described the experience for some as a culture shock, while saying others did not seem to have read the contract.
    He said the rental rate for living quarters was set by the British government at £53 per week and that the farms had no say in it.
    He said he was let down by the last farm on which the workers were placed as they had promised that there would be no shared accommodation, yet there was.
    “They were living in dorms, but had to share bathroom facilities with eastern European workers and it was not satisfactory to them because they did a lot of stuff that we as Barbadians would not do.”
    In relation to workers having to go to the hospital because of bedbugs, Griffith said he was aware of the issue and about four to five out of 23 workers had to seek medical attention.
    The workers also complained that they were told to book one-way tickets and felt trapped when they got to the UK, but Griffith said those who could afford two-way did so, and those who could only afford one-way were not turned down.
    “The farm labour programme is for people who are accustomed to manual labour and hard work. I think we had a slight mismatch this time with people who came,” he said.
    He added that he worked on a contractual basis with the Ministry of Labour in Barbados, but the last contract expired at the end of June.
    At the start of the programme last year Minister of Labour Colin Jordan gave the programme his blessing, saying: “We see this as an opportunity for workers to make a living and be ambassadors for the country.”
    Griffith said that there were about 105 Barbadian farm labourers in the programme, some of whom were on their second contract.
    “Some of these workers did not come from a manual labour background and had problems with the harvesting of strawberries.”
    He described it as gruelling, especially the “ground harvesting”, which meant workers had to pick the strawberries from the ground while on their “all fours”.
    He added that the complaints were not representative of the programme since they were from “a very small minority”.
    The UK programme, he said, was new ground being broken and was an opportunity for Barbadians to make a living.

    Source: Nation

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  • After reading the above, calculating the weekly salaries, adjusting for travel, rent, food, etc., this, in my opinion, is modern day slavery. Where is the benefit to the workers? That Griffith person seems like a barrel of laughs. They should all come to Canada. Some years ago, I went to a farm shop to buy a trunk load of squash. I met four Jamaican farm workers there and chatted with them. They had returned to the same farm for over five years. I later spoke with the farmer. He told me they were good workers and he requested the same men every year. He paid their passage and had built a self contained house for them. He said he was in the fields beside them, working alongside them every day.
    On another occasion I went strawberry picking at a farm near me. There were Jamaicans working there in the fields. Would you believe the farmer gave them a car to drive and the fellows had it parked in the fields with reggae music blasting while they weeded. Cool. Would you believe they were weeding only about 200 feet from the farm and their converted barn?

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  • POULTRY PLIGHT

    Some farmers losing birds to higher temperatures
    By Sheria Brathwaite
    sheriabrathwaite@nationnews.com
    The high temperatures affecting the island have touched its poultry production.
    Officials from the agriculture sector are reporting cases of chicken farmers going into pens and finding dead birds.
    They attribute the high mortality rate to the heat.
    On Friday, meteorologist at the Barbados Meteorological Services, Tia Browne, told the Sunday Sun that while warm temperatures were typical for this time of year, maximum temperatures had increased.
    “Over the past few weeks, we had weather systems that passed north of Barbados which resulted in light winds and hotter conditions,” she said. “This triggered localised rainfall across some parts of the island and flash-flooding.
    Temperatures across Barbados ranged from 29° Celsius to around 33° Celsius across northern, western and south-central parts of the island in August.
    September average
    “The climatological average maximum temperature in September for the Met Office station in Charnocks, Christ Church, is 31.0° Celsius. For September 2021 so far, the average maximum temperature at the Met Office is 31.2° Celsius; just slightly above the climatological average for this station. However, areas such as Bridgetown, northern, western and some central sections of the island would have experienced higher temperatures compared to the Met Office.”
    Chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, said heat stress was a major concern for many farmers.
    “Right now we are experiencing very high heat in pens and it is a worrying concern. I know of a farmer who lost about 300 birds three weeks ago because of the high heat,” he said.
    President of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association Stephen Layne said while the mortality rate was high, farmers were trying to control the situation and there was no need to import poultry products.
    Mortality rate
    “The mortality rate within the poultry sector has been higher than usual,” he said. “A number of them (farmers) indicated that they are just going in pens and seeing dead birds so they have been taking some losses.
    “Those (farmers) that spent millions of dollars in tunnel pens are faring a little bit better but everybody can’t spend that level of investment to have those types of poultry houses. So farmers with the traditional open houses have been having the most losses; but management has been trying certain techniques like running fans and reducing feed at certain times to mitigate against it. They are also ensuring the animals have adequate supplies of water.”
    Layne said there was still enough poultry meat and eggs to meet the demand of Barbadians.
    “We are very optimistic about the number of birds we have. We will not have a shortage of any chicken and we are on track to produce the adequate amount of eggs coming up for the holidays. So there should be no need to import.
    “If there was a full demand from the tourist sector we may have had some challenges but that is not the case,” he added.
    Meanwhile, Browne said temperatures should remain warm for the remainder of the month and into early October with temperatures becoming more “comfortable” from late October.

    Source: Nation

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