‘We Plantin’ progress

How many tress have been planted?

In 2020 the government announced an ambitious and laudable goal to plant one million trees to help mitigate climate impact. Like most projects in Barbados there is little feedback on the progress. How many tress have been planted? What has been the level of participation by the public? Is the planting being executed using strategies to achieve the best outcomes? This is a subject matter covered on BU several times since our inception in 2007.

The blogmaster is painfully aware topics of this nature are not of high interest in a society where ‘drama’ associated with the salacious is a ‘best seller’. However, some of us will continue to promote awareness of these matters because it is the sensible thing for sensible people to do. Why a majority of Barbadians would be unconcerned about nurturing a healthy habitat is beyond the imagination.

The short video posted explains why an approach that creates a biodiversity garden is recommended, and, one that encourages actors in civil society and international partners to work together.

Continue reading

What are we doing?

We have to introduce innovation; technology to maximize agricultural production in small spaces.

Another island wide blackout continues to feed national debate concerning the quality of service being provided by OUR Canadian owned Barbados Light & Power Company. It seems ironic that as you drive around Barbados one cannot help noticing large swaths of land being used to create solar farms, as well as the many roof tops covered with photovoltaic panels. Despite what appears to be a country consumed with harnessing an alternative source of energy, a 7 hour+ outage last week was the result.

BL&P 10MW Solar Farm

The blogmaster has to assume there is science being used to determine the location of these solar farms quickly dotting the island landscape of Barbados. It should not be lost on the planners that integral to island appeal is the natural landscape. Reducing acreage of sugarcane threatens the aesthetically pleasing view with the current trend of planting photovoltaic panels. Again great irony for a country consumed with pandering to tourism, the main sector in the economy.

Important to developing alternative energy sources is balancing the need to contribute to our food security. The blogmaster accepts that because of a high cost base and lack of scale, it is impossible for us to be a significant player in food production. That said, there is nothing wrong if small islands adopt approaches to reduce reliance on food supply from overseas. Surely the recent COVID 19 pandemic that to this day continue to disrupt the global supply chain taught us a lesson?

Continue reading

Plant food instead of houses

It is the start of the hurricane and there has been the usual awareness talk to remind Barbadians to install roof straps, ensure adequate insurance coverage, know where hurricane shelters are located etc.

It was last year a freak storm with the name Elsa wreak havoc on the housing stock in Barbados. The destructions caused the then Minister of Housing William Duguid to order hundreds of steel framed houses from China at a declared cost of 28 million dollars. It is not surprising that one year later only a handful of the houses have been assembled. A national disgrace with nobody held to account by Prime Minister Mottley. We remain ignorant about the role of EWBSB in the procurement of the steel houses. No wonder successive governments have made it a priority to hoodwink the electorate on the enactment of transparency legislation in the form of integrity and freedom of information laws.

Continue reading

Barbadians prefer to eat junk

We are a society that has become reliant on government for everything under the sun. While the government cannot be excused from its governance responsibilities, a civil society by definition is “considered as a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity“.

What is wrong with as many households as possible prioritizing kitchen gardens in pots, pans, replace lawns etc. Instead, we have allowed ourselves to become intoxicated with the easy lifestyle of sourcing too many food items from the shelves of a retail outlet whether local or international, Chefette, KFC and several others spring to mind.

Credit to Bentley
Continue reading

Aquaponics in Barbados: A Unique Opportunity for a Small Island Developing State

Submitted by Damian Hinkson

Barbados is in a unique position to take advantage of the benefits of aquaponics. As a small island developing state, our socioeconomic situation is perfect for rapid deployment of this innovative technology. Unlike larger countries with sunken costs associated with traditional food production and industrial agriculture, Barbados has the advantage of starting fresh with aquaponics.

However, despite the many benefits that aquaponics has to offer, it is sad to say that we often fall into the trap of simply copying other countries instead of being original and taking advantage of the opportunities that we have. In this case, we are missing out on the opportunity to lead the way in the adoption of aquaponics as a main stream solution for sustainable food production.

Continue reading

Barbados’ future handicapped by a One Leg Economy

Indar Weir, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

At least one minister in the Cabinet of Barbados gets it. Barbados will not or cannot support our standard of living given the traditional heavy reliance on tourism. 

Listen to Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir’s 2-minute side-burst from 1hr:12min of his presentation on the floor of the House (24/01/2023). As a member of Cabinet in a parliamentary system that is bound by the convention of collective responsibility, the cadence of Weir’s delivery suggests there is disagreement with his government’s approach.

Continue reading

A ‘Glocal’ Food Crisis

Submitted by Steven Kaszab

Wheat prices have tumbled from its peak when Russia had invaded the Ukraine, but one of the worlds most consumed items remains in short supply and that the global hunger crisis still remains. Much like oil, steel and beef, wheat shifts its price and availability in response to many complex factors such as geopolitics and the weather. Declining prices of wheat creates a challenge to our economies, one where low prices of wheat may not incentivise farmers to plant more wheat, thereby creating more scarcity of this product and its many off take products. A lower price for wheat does not deal with the ever increasing cost of energy, which affects the cost of running farm equipment, transportation and even the manufacturing  of needed fertilisers.  Hot, dry weather is also crimping the farmers style of crop growth. Our global economy is facing a potential situation where food prices could spiral out of control. 

Russia and the Ukraine account for 1/4 of global wheat exports. That is what war has affected. A man made crisis that may go into the long term. Adding global drought episodes and we are facing a combination of scarcity, corporate profiteering and ultimately food price gouging like not seen before. Wheat prices are at a level seen before the year began.  @ $7.75 per bushel jumped to over $13.00 right after Russia invaded Ukraine. The price stayed in double digit’s through this June and then began to fall to a $8.00 a bushel level. Winter Wheat stocks also brought the price down and a deal between Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations has allowed some wheat to ship to international markets. 

The cost of wheat and many other foods have been affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine, but the real factors that will affect the price of bread, cereal and other items will be climate change, the price of fuel and fertiliser.  Climate change is making crop growth highly unpredictable. Lack of rain, drought level micro climates and over harvesting of single crop items are limiting what can be grown and harvested each year. In Canada temperatures soared to record highs, making three fourths of the country’s 2021 agricultural land  abnormally dry. Canada’s wheat crop dropped to nearly 40% from 2020 to 2021, causing its exports to Latin America to decline by over three million tons.  Also, in 2020 wheat was about 30% cheaper then it is now. 

Because Russian fertiliser is so important to the global farm trade, it avoided international sanctions. Although high prices hurt countries that import wheat, low prices might dissuade farmers from planting extra crops this year. Over the past decade the number of farms closing production has increased. Family farms are becoming less and less, while corporate farms of thousands of acres specialise in the most profitable of crops, often no those crops that feed the nation. 

Like the stock exchange, food prices are on the move up and down, making money for some, and costing money for others. Whether the costs are artificially kept high, or there really is no controlling our food stuffs costs, the end consumer is in for a roller coaster ride, and their pocket books need to look out.

Cost of Living Matter (2) – A Time to Remain Unborn

Some ‘insane’ Barbadians are asking the question again – is the standard of living we have become accustomed tosustainable. Is it sensible for us `a net importer and purchaser of foreign currency to promote and implement policies that guarantee we must BORROW billions in foreign and local dollars to fund the short fall not covered from taxes collected in the case of domestic and foreign earnings?

Many years ago, ironically at the tail end of the last economic boom which Barbados never recovered, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur warned Barbadians about dark clouds on the horizon and the urgent need to make adjustments. To be expected we continued to engage in immature partisan political ranting as the walls of our society cracked are now tumbling around us.

We are a tiny island with zilch natural resources having to depend mainly on the fickle invisible export of tourism to generate foreign exchange to pay for our conspicuous consumption habits. We continue to build oversized homes, purchase fossil burning expensive SUVs, travel to distant lands to fulfil manufactured aspirations , aspire to study at elite universities, select exotic foods from supermarket shelves, the benefits sold to us on foreign cable beamed into our homes 24/7. To any sensible and educated person the dinosauric economic model could not and does not sustain the level of expenditure we have to incur. There is a good reason why Barbados’ economy has been described as open and susceptible to what economists fondly refer to as exogenous shocks.

On top of the obvious challenge of managing a minuscule 6-8 billion dollar economy largely dependent on a fickle tourism product, there is sufficient evidence – see Auditor General Reports outlining a litany of public sector malfeasance (private sector is always complicit) AND corruption to conclude we make a challenging situation more difficult. With revelations coming out of the arrest of former government minister Donville Inniss et al, there is evidence a culture exist that feeds corrupt behaviour. Although not a unique circumstance to Barbados, Barbadians must hold ourselves accountable for the kind of country we want to build for our children.

Many in this space lived through the 2007/8 global crisis and the oil crisis of the 70s. It is evident from the experiences of the two episodes we have not learned enough to commit to implementing resilient ‘fit for purpose’ policies. WE have allowed ourselves to buy into the ‘good life’ of consumption fuelled by an economy built on beach ground. Even in the face of the obvious, we have to listen daily to bull pucky discussions designed to take us no where. Unfortunately with the multiplicity of agendas to satisfy, with social media a ready purveyor of the inane the blame culture has taken deep root.

It is 2022, according to establishment analysts were are on the precipice of another global recession, one that should it occur given our fragile open economy will again wreak havoc on the lives of Barbadians, decimating a debt ridden middleclass and moving the poverty line north. Our visionless leaders combined with a level of disengagement from Barbadians – who the blogmaster has always contended ceded entitlements under our democracy to the political class – will have to suffer again for it until we learn to do better. The reference to a people getting governments they deserve has been recorded countless times in this space.

To the immediate matter at hand summarised in the article shared by a BU family member:

Rising food prices are changing the way we eat and shop

Emily Peck

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/U5xvN/1/Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios Visuals

Skyrocketing food prices in the U.S. are changing the way Americans eat and grocery shop — they’re buying more store brands, and less costly meat and produce. Some are now just making do with less.

  • Meanwhile, food manufacturers continue to “shrinkflate” — putting less potato chips or cereal in the bags and boxes that we buy.

Why it matters: This is inflation hitting home, contributing to the overall bummed-out mood of the nation.

  • Once upon a time, grocery shopping mainly fell to women, but these days 92% of adults do it. That means most everyone’s noticed rising food prices — and many have adjusted in ways both minor and potentially devastating.

Driving the news: The cost of “food at home” is up 11.9% from last year, the largest increase since April 1979, according to the scorching hot inflation numbers released Friday. Nearly every category of food the government tracks saw accelerating price growth. The most inflationary categories, as highlighted in a note from JPMorgan on Friday:

  • Egg prices up 32% year over year, thanks in part to a January bird flu outbreak that killed about 6% of commercial egg-laying chickens, as Axios’ Hope King explained last month.
  • Fats and oils were next on the list at 16.9%, partly due to the war in Ukraine, followed by poultry (16.6%) and milk (15.9%).

Unusual trend: The increases in prices for food at home are outpacing food-away-from-home, which is up *only* 7.4%.

  • This is “historically unusual,”JP Morgan notes. The growth differential is the widest since 1974, they said.

State of play: For a good snapshot of how rising food prices are changing behavior, we checked the most recent Beige Book — where the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks report on economic conditions in their area (h/t Planet Money’s Indicator podcast on this one):

Read full article https://www.axios.com/2022/06/13/rising-food-prices-are-changing-the-way-we-eat-and-shop

What Can be More Important than…

Submitted by Bentley

I’m sure you must have seen this article from GIS (see below).

While I totally agree with the need to address food security by regional leaders much more is needed to be done if we are to ever come close to satisfying the food requirements of the region from regional sources. With specific reference to Barbados there are several areas that we need to urgently address. These include:

  1. Getting an effective praedial larceny act in place,
  2. Giving meaningful incentives to small farmers,
  3. Work towards removing the stigma associated with farming and agricultural work,
  4. Allow would be small food crop farmers to have a real stake in the sector (provision of unused parcels of government land at viable concessions, revive the agricultural seed store with a wide variety of viable seeds),
  5. Put conditions in place to control crop pests especially monkeys. I’m sure there are several other factors you can think of.

Food security and food crop farming must be seen as important by every member of society and government must do all it can to ensure this is achieved. 

I remember the late Dr Keith Laurie saying that during the second world war Barbados was able to feed itself since no food was coming in from outside. There is no good reason why we can’t achieve this on a Caricom wide basis.

See GIS article referred to by Bentley

It’s Time To Secure Region’s Food Security


Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley addressing the the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, while regional leaders and officials look on. (PMO)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has used the platform of a major agriculture conference to make a strident call for regional heads to join together to ensure the region’s food security.

She made the call yesterday during the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, as she spoke on the topic: Pursuing CSME and Removing Barriers to Enhancing Agri-Trade Within the Region.

Ms. Mottley told the large gathering that the ongoing crisis with Russia and Ukraine had reinforced the vulnerabilities of the millions of people living in the Caribbean, based on the effect of wheat and other food restrictions in place by some overseas countries which export wheat and its by-products.

The Prime Minister shared that Russia, the Ukraine and India had stopped sending important food and grocery items outside its borders, and warned of more restrictions to follow by governments to safeguard their food supplies in the face of soaring inflation.

She articulated the view that the entire Caribbean region had to be viewed not just in the context of the population in CARICOM of 18 million people, but also the visitors received on an annual basis, whose “responsibility is ours to feed”.

Ms. Mottley affirmed: “We are at that moment in time when it is up to us to stand up to the challenge or to recognise that the consequences of it will indeed be difficult and potentially devastating for our people. While we await the global initiatives to be announced by the UN Secretary General and the global crisis response team he has established on food, energy and financing with the expectation that what the world faces will be more challenging than what we faced in 2008 to 2010. We have a responsibility to take preemptive action in this region to protect our people.”

The Prime Minister and other regional heads also made a case for more regular transportation of goods across the region with the suggestion that a new solution be found to move the cargo.

“In this moment, when maritime transport is at its greatest challenge, we have to recognise that the bridge to resuscitating Caribbean tourism air transport may well be having regional air cargo moving to help offset the investment to move our people,” she emphasised. 

Ms. Mottley continued: “We may need to look at different planes and we may need to look at more regular traffic. The regularity of movement may well be the solution for us rather than these large aircrafts that move once or twice a day.”

The three-day event was held under the themeInvesting in Vision 25 by 2025, which represents the goal to lower the region’s US $6 billion food import bill by 25 per cent within the next three years.


Engineers Getting In The Way

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

Portvale sugar factory continues to be closed at this most critical time of our crop season. Shockingly, the factory is still undergoing repairs after a two-week shutdown. Normally repairs happen during the planting and growing seasons, to avoid any shut-downs for repairs during the crop reaping time. Evidently, something has gone terribly wrong.

When CBC-TV finally broke the story that Portvale had already been closed for one week for repairs, the news reporter attempted to give comforting assurance and hope, by stating that: “the engineers are hard at work.” If engineers are seen to be hard at work on a problem that the public is aware of, then the situation must be very dire indeed.


Experienced Engineers normally foresee problems and quietly solve them with permanent solutions – without any fanfare. Therefore, an Engineer’s work is normally thankless, because the public has no opportunity to complain about problems they avoided experiencing. The public are generally unaware that there was anything to give thanks for, when Engineers do their jobs well.

The Barbados media’s decision to treat the closure of the Portvale factory as a national secret, that the public had no right to know, is very troubling. The planters’ decision to spill the proverbial bean, by publicly complaining about the risk of canes rotting, may have forced their hand.

The Barbados media must resist the temptation to be the public relations arm and attack hounds of their political party, and start serving the public with integrity.


The more important issue is: Are there any Chartered Mechanical Engineers employed at Portvale factory to avoid these types of delays? If not, then are there any Chartered Mechanical Engineers working in the Ministry of Agriculture? If not, then is there a single Chartered Mechanical Engineer working in the entire public service of Barbados? Is there a single journalist in Barbados who can ask these questions?

If the Government of Barbados has decided to stop hiring Chartered Mechanical Engineers, then the public must prepare for a wave of: rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, more frequent breakdowns and closures, and unnecessarily higher taxes to prematurely replace poorly maintained infrastructure.


The effective solution is obvious. But we do not seem to want effective solutions in Barbados, because it robs us of an opportunity to show who we really are. We much prefer to let things deteriorate, because that gives the public the opportunity to complain.

The more loudly people complain, the more likely the problem will be temporarily addressed – at an unnecessarily high cost. These short-term solutions give the public many opportunities to show who we really are – a grateful people. We long to express our gratitude. But Engineers’ competence keeps frustrating that cultural attribute.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Would Rihanna Devalue the Fenty Brand?

Submitted by Heather Cole

Back to the Budget of a few weeks ago. Many may have missed it, many would have wondered why they were included in a Budget Speech and many are still wondering what is the real story behind black belly sheep making up a budget speech delivery when truth be told they had nothing to do with government revenue or expenditure.

Fenty is Rihanna’s brand and black belly sheep is one of the components of the Barbados brand. Rihanna would never consider devaluing the Fenty brand so everyone should be quite concerned and question why the Government of Barbados wants to devalue the black belly sheep brand.

In a part of her speech, the Prime Minister mentioned quite a few things in relation to black belly sheep that leads to the devaluation of the brand.

  1. She stated that the sheep were to be raised in Guyana and then shipped to Barbados for slaughter. This may not be a good idea as there is no evidence provided that black belly sheep can thrive under the conditions that exist in Guyana.
  2. She mentioned that the black belly sheep will be cross bred with another type of sheep in Guyana. This means that there is some knowledge that the black belly sheep cannot thrive in Guyana. If they could indeed thrive, there would be no need to cross breed to create a hybrid.
  3. One can only presume that this cross breed would be more suited to the environment in Guyana. A cross between a horse and a donkey creates a mule. What will the cross bred be? The soil and vegetation are not the same so therefore, the meat and fat content will not be the same and the quality of the hide will not be the same.
  4. She also mentioned the sale of two types of meat. One of the pure black belly sheep and the other of the cross breed. The pure black belly will be for export and the diluted cross breed for local consumption. Will they be packaged accordingly? How will a consumer know that they are consuming the diluted version and not the authentic brand? Will the taste and texture of the meat be the same?
  5. Have 400 years of slavery damaged us so psychologically that it is still acceptable to be offered food that is less than the best or can we still be forced to eat what the ruling class would never eat?
  6. She mentioned that there would be a price differential. How will Barbadians feel knowing that they may not be able to afford an authentic brand that was created right in their own backyard centuries ago? How will they feel knowing that they are forced to settle for a substitute? Is the meat of the authentic black belly sheep which will be exported for a premium price be too good for Barbadians to consume?
  7. It was not stated that government of itself would be farming the black belly sheep so why was it so quick to come up with the price differentials between the meat of the authentic brand and the diluted product, given that the production cost will be the same?

Two burning questions that remain, are which of the local farmers can afford to start a sheep farm in Guyana and if this venture is only for the select few. One will only know both literally and figuratively if the project gets off the ground and the meat comes to market.

A brand is a unique identity. The government of Barbados should get some help from Rihanna on how to market this authentic brand. Rihanna would never collaborate with anyone to dilute her brand and sell her merchandise at a cheaper price. If that were the case, she would not be a billionaire today. So why is the Government of Barbados destroying the identity of the black belly sheep to promote a cross bred hybrid? Who will be enriched through this venture?

I am all for the creation of an enhanced product but not for a dilution and devaluation of the black belly sheep brand of Barbados. Governments action to alter the breed of the sheep does not offer increased value since it has stated that the cross breed will be sold at a cheaper price.

Livestock rearing is not new to Barbados. Some of the land that will no longer be used to produce sugar cane can be used to rear sheep. Incentives can be offered to small farmers and all of Barbados to raise and produce this product for local consumption and for export while maintaining the authenticity of the brand. Government can also ensure that the real black belly sheep meat is available to all Barbadians by fixing its price per pound on the domestic market.

Government Initiatives to Address Food Supply – The St. Barnabas Accord

Russia’s war in Ukraine will disrupt commerce and clog up supply chains, slashing economic growth and pushing prices sharply higher around the globe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned Thursday….the 38-country OECD said that over the next year, the conflict would reduce gross domestic product (GDP) — the broadest measure of economic output — by 1.08 percent worldwide, by 1.4 percent in the 19 European countries that share the euro currency and by 0.88 percent in the United States.

OECD warns Ukraine war to push prices even higher.

The ongoing war in Ukraine obviously has implications for global trade and supply chains, consequently there has been growing attention to the issue of food and nutrition security. This comes on the back of the ongoing pandemic that has already disrupted the global supply with increase demand for certain products exposing challenges in production and distribution. With global challenges predicted to continue the obvious question for curious minds is to examine the Mia Mottley government’s agriculture mitigation measures under Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir. 

The goal of the F.E.E.D programme is to involve more young people in agriculture by training them and providing them with land and infrastructure after training by initially targeting was 1200 farmers. The government is also reportedly spending millions of dollars in St. Phillip and St.Lucy. The water harvesting project at River in St. Phillip is almost complete.

See relevant link:


There is also the Hope Training Initiative in St Lucy, funded by the Chinese Government.

See related link: 


However the agriculture project which captures the imagination of the blogmaster is the initiative at the Lears Land Lease project. It is a partnership between government and C.O Williams with the plan to allocate land between 5000 sq ft and 2 acres to 150 F.E.E.D programme participants. A component of the project is that it plans construction of a food terminal in partnership with Guyana and Suriname which should see Barbados becoming a southern Caribbean hub for the distribution of food throughout the region.  Barbados hopes to benefit from competitive prices for food products which are not produced in Barbados. Also there is another upside- products produced in excess like onions local farmers will have access to a facility to export to the rest of Caricom to ease any glut. 

See relevant link: 

Another initiative is the Blackbelly Sheep project which seeks to increase local blackbelly sheep population from 10,000 to 1 million in 5 years. This is being led by local black belly sheep expert Dr. Leroy McClean. The project is expected to utilize land space in Guyana for sheep farming and hopefully significant reduce lamb imports into Caricom. 

See relevant link:

These initiatives have resulted from the St.Barnabas Accords which is an agreement signed by Barbados, Guyana and Suriname on cooperation across several sectors. This partnership with Guyana – described for years as the bread basket of the region – is long overdue and was a part of the vision of the late Owen Arthur who all agree was a big proponent of the CSME, a component of CARICOM.

The blogmaster is about recognizing results, in this case the measure must be a spike in agriculture output by moving the GDP needle. However some marks must be given to the Mottley administration for the ongoing initiatives mentioned. For sure volatility in the global production and distribution commodities market demands the urgency of now by leaders for the region to cooperate and find ways to feed its people. Globalization as we knew it seems to be under threat- a new global order is emerging and countries are rethinking alliances and leaning more to smaller trading blocks. The St. Barnabas Accord along with others to be born maybe the way forward to circumvent more bureaucratic regional arrangements.

Is Food Security a Priority?

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the ramifications has brought into sharp focus the matter of food security in Barbados and the region. If we judge by the sums allocated in the Estimates over the years it is evident successive governments have been contented to pay lip service to the agriculture sector. It must be said that COVID 19 has seen greater effort to increase production in agriculture but it is not enough. The ongoing conflict has again exposed the region.

The blogmaster is aware a growing monkey population and praedial larceny continue to sabotage the effort of local farmers. It does not matter how much water you fill a bucket, if it has holes it will be a wasted effort. The small land space of Barbados means that a serious effort at implementing a food security plan must include collaboration with Caricom. It is good to see that Prime Minster Mottley and President Ali enjoy a good relationship. The relation must translate to something tangible.

See a copy of Trinidad’s Praedial Larceny Prevention Act.

<object class="wp-block-file__embed" data="https://barbadosunderground.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/praedial-larceny-act-tt.pdf&quot; type="application/pdf" style="width:100%;height:600px" aria-label="Embed of <strong>Praedial Larceny Prevention ActPraedial Larceny Prevention Act.Download

Check Out the Real Situation…

There is the popular expression credited to Sir Winston Churchill ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’. It is believed Churchill’s reference had to do with an alliance formed after World War II between himself (UK), Stalin (Soviet Union) and Roosevelt (USA) which resulted in the formation of the United Nations. It is possible that out of chaos can come order to quote another.

It is ironic the world is again witnessing a crisis that if left unchecked could escalate to nuclear war. The battle between Russia – successor to the Soviet Union – and the Ukraine – former member of the Soviet Union – is another indictment of mankind. What cannot be denied is that the conflict will continue to negatively impact the global economy because Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat, oil and other commodities. There is also the collateral effect of speculators who influence price in the global financial markets.

What an epoch unfolding!

The conflict in Eastern Europe lest we forget is occurring at a time the global community is waging another ‘battle’ against the Covid 19 pandemic. It is a time we are reminded by members of the nonsecular fraternity that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” – Ephesians 6:12. To pragmatists the opportunity to create opportunities arising from crises is the goal while others remain anchored to being idealistic with perennial talk of end times. Truth be told for the blogmaster’s life and parents before this has been the refrain – soon come. 

Conscious of the need to promote in the Community the highest level of efficiency in the production of goods and services especially with a view to maximising foreign exchange earnings on the basis of international competitiveness, attaining food security, achieving structural diversification and improving the standard of living of their peoples;


The conflict between Russia and Ukraine hopefully will galvanize a lazy political class to focus on food security for the region. Even if it is at the eleventh hour. Ever since the Treaty of Chaguaramas was established members have failed to exploit the resources of the region for collective benefit of citizens. The approach by leaders of CARICOM has been to feed inflated egos by luxuriating in the high offices of the land. Citizens of the region must hold themselves accountable by raising the decibel level on a dissenting voice, be as passionate to protest as is presently being demonstrated because of the Russia/Ukraine conflict. 

The same can be hoped for regarding if we have learned from the Covid 19 pandemic. Are we satisfied our businesses have re-engineered storefronts to efficiently deliver products and services to the public if the pandemic escalates or another emerges? What about the public service – what is the status of the project to make it fit for purpose? Should another pandemic or event occur that requires a shutdown to face to face service, does it mean a large number of public servants sent home to suck indefinitely from the nipples of taxpayers? 

It is two years and counting since the Covid 19 pandemic started and eight years the Russia/Ukraine conflict has been in the making with fighting in the Donbas regions. Are our leaders fiddling while CARICOM is burning?

Difficult Conversations – Start Planting

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

If Russia goes to war with Ukraine, the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have promised to inflict punishing sanctions on Russia.

NATO is a military alliance of 26 European continent countries, plus the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. Essentially, it is an agreement to defend any member that is attacked. Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, sanctions is the option NATO chose.

There will likely be a United Nations General Assembly resolution to condemn any Russian aggression. China will likely side with Russia, and will expect its satellites to either vote with them or abstain. Given the satellites’ economic dependence on China, they will feel compelled to fall in line.


Barbados is now in an entirely new situation. Previously, we were insured against aggressor nations by the British military. As a sovereign and independent nation since 1966, that was the only formal relationship we kept with Britain. Over time, we discounted the deterrent value of that insurance, until we shockingly declared in our Parliament that it was worthless.

Last year, we cancelled that invaluable insurance, because our extreme radicals successfully convinced the Government that this was necessary to end colonialism. That was lunatic-level reasoning. But it was generally accepted by our: politicians, lawyers, journalists, moderators, writers, poets, artists, musicians, and singers, who actively promoted that lunacy as truth.


The historical record is littered with leaders who cannot tolerate dissent. They eventually view dissenters as somehow sub-human, and not deserving of any rights – only persecution, torture and death. Previously, we were protected from such tyrants – but now that we are uninsured and exposed, each of us must decide whether our integrity has any value.

In March 2020, the news priority for many was COVID-19. Therefore, the judgement of “The Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China”, rendered on 1 March 2020, went largely unnoticed. In our now unprotected state, it is now relevant to us.


In the early 1990s, a new religion was formed in China, where adherents were to seek enlightenment through doing good deeds and suffering. It was a combination of Buddhist and Taoist traditions. It was called Falun Gong. By 1999, there were approximately 70 million adherents in China, and the Government decided that it threatened China’s social stability.

The Tribunal determined that forced organ harvesting happened since at least the year 2000. “The Tribunal assesses as credible numbers of operations between 60,000 and 90,000 per annum in the years 2000-2014. This, when compared to the number of eligible registered donors, which, by 2017, had risen to 5,146, leaves an incomprehensible gap.”


The Tribunal concluded: “In the long-term practice in the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) of forced organ harvesting it was indeed Falun Gong practitioners who were used as a source – probably the principal source – of organs for forced organ harvesting.”

The Tribunal explained why. “Since 1999 the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) regarded practitioners of Falun Gong as unworthy of any of those universal rights that attach to human beings by reason of their humanity”.


As an uninsured country, we must be careful not to let our disagreements permanently divide us. Tragically, we have been brought to the brink of permanent division by political operatives, who try to destroy the personal and professional reputations of those who dare to disagree with their political party. That is who we have become, but it is not who we should be.

We should accept the right of all people to discuss their opinions, whether we agree with them – or find them utterly disgusting. So, whether they: choose to worship God or satan, are monogamous or promiscuous, are of our race or another race, choose to have sex with those of the opposite sex or the same sex, are sexually attracted to adults or minors, it does not matter – they are all part of this humanity.


Once we make exceptions on who is allowed to discuss and defend their opinions, we will cross that boundary of justifying evil. Regardless of someone’s beliefs, behaviours, or opinions, we must love them enough to engage in honest evidence-based discussion. Where their actions have broken the law by measurably harming another, then they can argue their case in court. But even if they are convicted, they are still part of our humanity.

We must value our integrity enough to plead the cause of all persecuted persons – especially to leaders of countries with whom we trade. That means that Barbados should, at the very least, ask China to reconsider their persecution of the Buddhist/Taoist Fulan Gong, the Muslim Uyghurs, and the Christians. Or we can consent to their oppression, and accept whatever liabilities come with that consent, by our silence.


We should prepare for war. Our grand parents explained that during the last European war, there were limited imports to Barbados. The planned NATO sanctions are foreseen to harm all nations, which may result in import shortages. Therefore, plant a fruit tree and sweet potatoes on whatever land you have. The soil has already been enriched with the volcanic ash, so our harvest should be bountiful.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Import it First Attitude!

It is often bandied about the ministry of agriculture (MOA) has more employees with PhDs than most places. However, if you try to plot a correlation between national agriculture output and number of post grad certifications in the MOA, there is a negligible positive. 

The late prime minister Owen Arthur warned Barbadians of storm clouds on the horizon and that Bajans should take interest in backyard farming, he was ridiculed- the matter was consumed by the usual political diatribe. The same occurred when the late David Thompson promoted a slogan of ‘crime and violence. It is ironic looking back that two prime ministers of Barbados were unable – although lead policymakers – were unable to change irrelevant behaviour in our people.

Despite three years into the term of the incumbent government and two years into a pandemic – have we seen enough activity in the agriculture sector given the urgency of now? The answer is NO!

Many times we visit restaurants and ask the question, do you have sweet potato to replace english potato, do you have natural juices to replace artificially flavoured etc, too many times the answer is NO!

What is the purpose of the social partnership if during a period of economic hardship stakeholders are unable to see the benefit of vertical integration approaches in the domestic marketplace?

The following video was shared by Bentley, long time BU contributor.


Food Security: Eat the Cellphone

There is a popular saying “God helps those who help themselves“. The pandemic has been with us almost 2 years, we know any pandemic is likely to disrupt the global supply chain. We know Barbados is a significant importer of food, over the years successive governments have paid lip service to prioritizing food security. It is cheaper to import than produce in Barbados they say – what about forming a strategic relationship with other islands? What is the purpose of Caricom?

The following was sent to the blogmaster with the following question. The old people have another saying – “you have made your bed and will have to lie on it”.

David you want a better reason why we should have introduced a greenhouse project over a year ago than this?

Rekindling that Old time Community Spirit

Projects similar to this (see article attached) could be implemented on some of the acres of waste government lands scattered all over the country. If government is really serious about food security it would allow people (properly organised) to utilize non productive land for the purpose of growing food.

Bentley – BU Contributor

The pandemic provides the opportunity for households and government alike to innovate through progressive thinking and decision-making by reinventing how we reorder our lives. Whether it is efficiently and effectively implementing digital transformation, Minister Kerri Symmonds announced last week the government will be sourcing electric or hybrid vehicles to replace its existing fleet – long coming but good news. We beseech the private sector to follow government’s lead, this is normally the case anyway.

The blogmaster wants to see more individuals coming together to harness and benefit from community spurred activity. The idea of fostering a collective spirit is a key difference how we live our lifes today compared to days of old. It seems- and narrow sighted though it was- we developed a misplaced definition of advancement.

We can rekindle and foster community spirit by taking into account the following :

  • Identify your goals – and where you currently stand.
  • Work with what you have
  • Bring people together
  • Formalize it
  • Put people to work
  • Create lifestyle programs
  • Listen to feedback
  • Use your tools
  • Strengthen your brand

Source: Nine Ways to Build Community Spirit

If addressing food security is the priority item, let us get everybody involved. To move the needle we must have big farms to address demand for volume BUT there is also benefit of stoking participation at a micro level. The shift in attitude would naturally inform behavioural changes in other aspects to our lifes. We can utilize the community approach to rolling out financial products, matters pertaining to the environment, arresting crime and many more.

On a 23 by 14 (166 square mile) island a community based approach is our competitive advantage to be exploited NOW.

Community Vegetable Projects: Using Space To Put Food On The Table

By Guest Author – May 5, 2013 0

community vegetable garden

Implementation and maintenance

It starts with a community meeting, where the idea is put forth for discussion amongst those present. Whoever signs up for the project will have to commit to active and reliable involvement. Let’s say 100 people in a suburban community take part. They submit a project plan to the local municipality with all the names and signatures of those wishing to be involved. Once they’ve been allocated land, seeds can be donated by a nursery, supplied by the government, or purchased through money raised at fundraising events.

Security systems will have to be put in place, such as a barbed wire fence, which could be funded in the above mentioned ways. A small security Wendy house could be erected and manned by members of the community on a rotational basis.

The graveyard shifts can be done mostly by members who are not employed and don’t have to get up to work the next day.  The fields can be tended by groups of ten people for between three and five hours per day. The teams could be selected according to the similarity in each individual’s work and domestic schedule. https://0d672c20c9a7a0b96aef5e10f786fd55.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The municipality can help by installing plumbing and water at their own cost. After all, it’s the least they can do. Governments earn a fortune in taxes that are supposed to go towards things such as roads, but how much goes toward the single most important and basic human need – food?Related:   Awesome and Healthy Vegetables to Grow in the Winter

The entire project will be a valuable and positive investment for the entire country.

How community projects improve community relationships

  • Many hungry people will be able to put food in their bellies.
  • Members involved will enjoy a greater sense of community and well-being, knowing that they are taking positive action for themselves and others.
  • Those involved will occupy more of their time in a constructive manner, as opposed to drinking, taking drugs, and committing crime. In other words, it can keep people off the streets, and hopefully result in a general decrease in crime. The ripple effects are far reaching, as people involved will be able to steer their lives in a more positive direction. As they gain new skills and begin to see the fruits of their labour, their general self-esteem and sense of self-worth will increase. They will begin to feel a sense of accomplishment and feel more positive about their future, about learning and education; they will become more empowered and strive harder to better their lives. What with more available income, they should be able to do just that.
  • Through working with the earth people will re-establish a connection with nature and gain a greater appreciation for the environment and life, and in so doing will add balance and harmony to their lives. This could lead to the development of noble and philanthropic qualities such as compassion, patience and kindness, as they strive to work harmoniously with others for the greater good of the community.
  • With less street crime to fight, perhaps some of our tax money will be directed towards more community projects, which results in a bit of a snowball effect. The government needs to understand that this is a long-term project that may initially require some capital investment, but which offers many long-term returns.

We all stand to gain from these kinds of projects, not just those directly involved. If the positive changes in communities become obvious, perhaps the projects will gain traction in communities all over the world. In an ideal world, we could stamp out global starvation altogether!


Execute or Die

The blogmaster followed with interest the passing of Bills yesterday in the Lower House of the National Payment System Bill 2021 and the Barbados Identity Management Bill 2021. The government appears to be moving to take advantage of technology to enhance and transform how Barbadians do business in a new ecosystem, pay for goods, services. Gone are the days when banks and to a lesser extent credit unions monopolized payment systems. Replacing the ‘tattered and embarrassing’ looking Barbados ID card is also overdue. From following the debate the new Barbados ID card will use current technology to store a range of data to permit the holder to do different types of transactions with optional validation with the use of biometrics etc. The improvements once implemented will improve business facilitation and other deficiencies.

The initiative by government to improve the ‘national payment ecosystem’ to quote Minister in the ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn although laudable exposes the fact homegrown businesses do not control the bulk of payment transactions. For too long Barbadians seem happy to be consumers of goods and services instead of becoming owners in the distribution chain whether financial or commodity. Unless we discover ways to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery enhancements we make facilitated by new laws in parliament will be nothing more than painting ‘lipstick on the pig’.

The other development which caught the attention of the blogmaster was the announcement last week a comeyuh promised to invest 10 million dollars to transform the 400 acre Haymans plantation to a state of the art farm. The blogmaster commends the investor who for whatever reason appears to be motivated to do something that should be part of a larger project to address food security in Barbados. Covid 19 has exposed our shortcomings as far as agriculture production is concerned. We agree there has been increase in agricultural output, however, nothing that has significantly moved the needle to address food security concerns. Did it escape Barbadians Charles Gagnon, owner of Haymans had to remove 50 truckloads of garbage illegally dumped on the site.

Related Links:

The initiative is a timely reminder to inquire what is the project status of 30 acres of land located at Dukes plantation that was donated to UWI Cave Hill Campus in 2017. There is a lethargy that seems to permeate everything we do in Barbados. Surely we have referred to implementation deficit often enough to have made a conclusion by now that we have to change how we do business if we want to sustain an acceptable quality of life for our people. There is an advantage to being a 2×3 island. It should equip us to be nimble in decision-making and project execution.

In simple less flowery language Barbadians must shed comfortable politically partisan positions and evolve to assessing what are national imperatives and just do it. The constant and banal snarling exhibited by stakeholders in civil society is unacceptable given our investment in education. We are a Black majority nation and should be embarrassed to acknowledge that our key gateways to economic activity are controlled by minority AND foreign interest.


Pumpkins and Corporate Social Responsibility

Submitted by Kammie Holder

Selfish, unpatriotic, heartless, self serving are but a few choice adjectives that could be attributed to companies within Barbados who would import pumpkin amidst a glut in Barbados. 

Some of these said companies are the same ones who often suck on the nipples of taxpayers via government for economic relief and concessions. Where is your sense of corporate social responsibility? Barbados as a country has always respected Caricom and WTO free trade treaties as required and will continue to respect international agreements as an orderly democracy.

Thus, the least the corporate maguffies and selfish importers could have done is to negotiate with local farmers if they really cared about their workers, workers families and Barbados.  I am not one who believes in carte blanche home drums beat first mantra, for profit and corporate social responsibility must go hand in hand. Would it make sense to have cheap energy generation from a nuclear power plant that spills its nuclear waste water into the surrounding sea, destroying the marine life and livelihood of fisherfolk.

Hell no.

Its time enough, companies in Barbados understand that corporate social responsibility goes beyond just sponsoring fete and sports, as distractions from life’s struggles.

In lieu of the absence of strong oversight in the high casual usage of pesticides in farming  within Caricom I would like to humbly suggest the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry Of Health seeks to ascertain the pesticide residue of level of these pumpkins  to assure the public they are safe for human consumption.  Perhaps some arrogant indifferent person somewhere rather than act on concerns will dismiss concerns as self serving mischief. 

Let me say importers in Barbados need to do better and stop exploit the docility of Bajans whose nipples they have continuously sucked on and are now pre-cancerous. As importers and retailers you want Bajans to patronize local establishments over foreign ones, yet you turn around and exploit our loyalty. If the selfishness continues I shall personally mobilize a boycott of your establishments just as the Muslim are leading a boycott of french manufactured goods, do you can take this as an idle threat at your own peril.

Some day we will awaken from our self imposed slumber and stop seek pity as well as blame others for our lot in life. To live this life without a cause is to live a life without purpose. 

Carmeta Fraser Smiles

The Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Cleviston Haynes will deliver the quarterly review of Barbados’ economy, next Wednesday, October 28 at 11:00 AM. In recent years Barbadians have become numb to the performance of the economy as we battle with a high debt to GDP, high unemployment, low national productivity to name three key performance indicators.

The pandemic expectedly served to stress the fragile state of the local economy and according to the mid year review of the economy by the Central Bank in June 2020 – see Central Bank of Barbados Review of the Economy January the economy saw a sharp decline that was the trend across sectors, EXCEPT, for Agriculture which saw a 3.7 percent expansion in non sugar agriculture.

For many years Barbados Underground has pleaded with government to allocate additional resources to the food sector. Barbados is surrounded by the sea with an abundance of fish, a mature poultry and pig industry and with declining sugar production available land space to plant root and other crops to grow the agriculture sector. It is heartening to see non sugar agriculture output trending upwards and expect that next week the trend will continue when the Governor delivers the quarterly report. A good news story forced by the pandemic we have to admit.

Related Link: Carmeta’s Corner

Last year government launched the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) to increase domestic agricultural production with the objective of enticing more young people and the use of technology into farming.  In 2011 Barbados Underground featured the Aquaponnics project located at Bairds Village – Baird’s Village Aquaponics Project, A Case Study For Homegrown Success. Finally Mr. Hinkson, a pioneer of the technology in Barbados is getting the recognition he deserves.

See video on the FEED programme:


It is no secret one of the factors negatively affecting the agriculture sector is praedial larceny. Successive government have paid lip service to introducing measures and enforcing existing laws to protect farmers and the sector. If we are serious about increasing and sustaining output, we MUST address the scourge of praedial larceny. If it were the tourism sector we know the calvary would have been summons by government to lend assistance.

That said we should be encouraged by the growth in non sugar agriculture and continue to improve by increasing technology and education in the sector. Let us guard against crop theft AND leverage opportunities CARICOM can provide. We lack the land space to benefit from scale and the small size of the domestic market to keep price points low to compare with the competition. The following report on the Caricom Agriculture and Food security Task Force is instructive and we pray for its success so that we continue to move the agriculture output needle in the right direction.

See GIS report:

CARICOM Agriculture & Food Security Task Force Established

by Cathy Lashley | Oct 21, 2020 |

CARICOM now has a Food Security Task Force to ensure that member states make agricultural development a priority.

This was disclosed by Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, recently, as he gave the Barbados Government Information Service an update of new initiatives under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) at his Culloden Road office. 

Ambassador Comissiong explained that the task force was implemented to ensure that the region does not experience any deficit in food supplies and that the agriculture and food production sectors were enhanced.

He said: “This initiative is intersecting with the Barbados National FEED (Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive) programme. The Government has a programme in place to bring on board 2,000 new farmers to seriously enhance Barbados’ capacity to produce its own food and agricultural produce.”

The envoy added that as it was announced in the Throne Speech, additional resources would be put in place to establish and develop “new markets across our landscape”.

“So, clearly, one of the responses to the crisis (COVID-19 pandemic) is for Barbados to produce much more of its food. Right now, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange purchasing food from outside our CARICOM region. So, if at the regional level and at the national level we could enhance our food production, then in a situation where the tourism has collapsed [and] we are not bringing in the foreign exchange, we can get around that need for foreign exchange by producing more of our food,” he stated.



Food Security Project at Todds Plantation

Submitted by Heather Cole


Heather Cole is asking for the public’s support to ensure the success of a food security project at the Todds Plantation.

Dear Prospective Investors and Members,



Although the conception of the People’s Agricultural and Business Co-op was done prior to COVID-19, we did not anticipate that our fears would have been realized months later when this global pandemic began to wreak havoc on the economy. COVID-19 has exposed the harsh reality that insufficient food is being grown on the island that Barbadians call home.

It has been said that Barbadians do not work together for economic gain. With this in mind, The People’s Agricultural and Business Co-operative Ltd. is seeking to become an agent of change in Barbados. It is providing an opportunity for ordinary Barbadians to economically come together through the formation of this co-op to grow food, produce by- products, engage in marine farming, grow agri- produce and engage in several other business activities…

Relevant Supporting Document:




Invisible Post COVID PROGRESSIVE Policies


Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Group

The fears of many progressives that Caribbean leaders will not embrace a new economic path post COVID -19, are slowly surfacing. While we support the current efforts in the fight against COVID-19, we must admit that as the region returns to state of normalcy or what is being branded the “new norm”, there will be nothing new about their economic management.

There is a collective pandering to the same institutions and backward policies that are essentially stagnating growth. We therefore expect the status quo to remain entrenched and we predict that we will witness blatant attempts, to apply the finishing touches to the death of trade unionism. The commanding heights of our economies will continue to be dominated by whites, Asians, and other minorities both local and expatriate. The relentless quest for wealth will continue and many poor Black Caribbean citizens, will be expected to carry the burden.

These hopelessly backward and visionless leaders are once more placing almost all their eggs in the tourist industry basket. They have quickly forgotten how rapidly and comprehensively the tourist industry collapsed as the vicious COVID-19 spread throughout the world. They are hell bent on cajoling with a good servant but a bad master and the vacant air and seaports resembling ghost cities, put fear r in their timid hearts.

The agricultural and manufacturing sectors have been ruthlessly abandoned and in some countries golf courses, marinas and multimillion-dollar homes have replaced anything resembling food crops. The islands are essentially for sale and in some territories, citizenship can be bought to boost foreign exchange levels. The worst kept secret in some islands, is the fact that three generations of white plantation owners have no interest in agriculture. They have destroyed some economies and are in cahoots with some high-flying politicians who live above their means and find themselves in the pocket of corporate marauders.

Against this background of leadership sycophancy, the MCG, has no choice other than to call on progressive forces to blunt this socio-economic destruction. We can no longer limit ourselves to pseudo intellectual mumbo jumbo while our brothers and sisters, in some cases, work for less than $150 USD per week.

We note that some leaders are forced to eat humble pie as they slip into bed with known corporate pirates. Our distinguished head of the University of the West Indies finds himself begging the same corporate elites that he once vehemently castigated. We watch in awe as one leader a once considered a Marxist, finds himself at the center of unsavory acts unbefitting his tremendous intellect and academic brilliance. And another leader finds herself embracing a rich white corporate heavy roller, whom she viciously attacked in a general election just about two short years ago.

The COVID-19 has not only unhinged our socio-economic model but has left naked for all to see, a barren collective leadership that now finds everything, apart from sunseekers on their beaches, beyond their bankrupt imagination.

We expect to see more pigs walking on their hindlegs.

William Skinner, Information Officer, MCG.

Developing Food Security in Post Covid 19 Caribbean Economies

Submitted by Mahogany Coconut Group

Many regional commentators are of the firm opinion, that the post COVID-19 economies, will have to consider putting the Agriculture industry, at the forefront of economic planning. While we certainly do not want to engage in pessimism, we suspect that some who share this view, may be quite optimistic and are avoiding historical truths.

The belief that the region should feed itself is nothing new. Over forty-five years ago, the then Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago addressed the “The Caribbean Food Crisis” and the need to halt the level of food imports. Williams saw the inability of the region to deal with the Energy Crisis as directly linked to our failure to produce more food and create a vibrant regional agricultural sector. His analysis of the social and economic negatives resulting from the damage that food imports were creating in regional economies, are as relevant now as they were almost a half century ago.

In addresses quoted at the end of this article, Williams spoke of the stigma that young people attached not only to agriculture but to the actual foods they consumed. Indeed, he spoke of how our eating habits and the preference over imported food were rationalized. He also showed how the growth of the tourism industry was influencing food preferences, that were instrumental in driving imports

Against this background, we are forced to conclude that those negatives are more severe now than they were a half century ago. Since Williams spoke, tourism has become the major industry in several islands. Some of these islands, are now literally bankrupt because the COVID-19, has wiped out the tourist industry, for what is being hoped would be temporary period.

The stone that the builder refused (Agriculture) is at present being seen as the new corner stone, in what will be post COVID-19 regional economies. We can only hope that we do not repeat the errors made a half century ago.

Reference: Forged from The Love of Liberty
Selected Speeches of Dr Eric Williams
Oil and Food
The Caribbean Food Crisis
Address at the opening ceremony of the Ninth Biennial Convention of the
Caribbean Veterinary Association 12th August 1974
Opening Address to the Oil and Food Discussion Port of Spain
6 January 1975
Pages 93-101
Saturday 18th April 19, 2020

Remembering Carmeta – Food for Thought

The following blog reflects concern about food security in a Trinidad and Tobago context, however,  the message rings true for the majority of countries in the region including Barbados. It raises the perennial concern that Caricom has not been able to implement solutions to address concerns about the need for food security for its member.  Thanks to Tee White sharing the link with the blogmaster.

David, Barbados Underground


Food for Thought- Food Sovereignity in Times of Crisis

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that all restaurants and food vendors will be ordered to cease the sale of food until the COVID-19 virus is under control in T&T. Rowley’s announcement seemed to have inspired a civil war as many have been led to believe that this decision was the result of pressure from disgruntled doubles vendors. However while the country is locked in a senseless argument about whether KFC is “essential” or not, a larger, more pressing issue that has haunted our country for our entire history looms larger than ever. That is, the question of food sovereignity.

As a small island nation with a dormant manufacturing sector, almost every item that is consumed- from clothes, to electronics and especially food- is imported from abroad. But as the COVID infection continues to rip throughout the world without abating, entire industries are being forced to shut down due to concerns about the safety of workers and the wider population. If this virus isn’t brought under control, there is the very real possibility of our nation having to forgo imported goods for as long as the world needs for this virus to relent.

This is a frightening possibility, especially given the fact that our agriculture industry isn’t even a major industry anymore. What would the future hold for the 1.3 million people who live here with our source of sustainance gone? “Too late, too late!” shall be the cry as we would finally understand how important it would have been for our nation to feed itself.

What can the government do (perhaps more poignantly- what would an MSJ government do) in order to revive agriculture in a way that can save us from impending disaster?

It begins with incentivising agriculture. At this point, this is where defenders of past and present agri-policy would interject and list the various incentives that exist for farmers locally. However, none of these incentives address a fundamental problem affecting farmers- the purchasing of agricultural produce.

By importing cheap food that has been mass produced on industrial farms in other countries, we have flooded our own nation with cheap produce which has made it difficult for local farmers to compete. The higher cost of local goods have discouraged both retailers and consumers from buying local. As a result, farmers continue to struggle despite the numerous incentives that are available. However these incentives mean nothing if farmers can’t even get their produce sold.

Therefore it is important that the purchase of local goods are guaranteed by law. Under the MSJ, all supermarkets and other retailers must first purchase products from local farmers before turning to outside sources to fill their shelves. In doing so not only would we provide a stable and steady source of income for local farmers but we would also cut down on the loss of foreign exchange- the shortage of which has triggered yet another crisis in T&T. In addition to mandating the purchase of local food products, the cost of these items will be offset through government subsidies. Why has this not been done before? This oversight can be easily attributed to apathy and nonchalance, but we see something more sinister. The retailers and traders locally have amassed great fortunes through the buying and re-selling of imported goods. From supermarkets to fast food restaurants, the business elite have been able to influence government policy for their benefit and theirs alone. Funds generated from this un-innovative business model have been used to fund political parties and keep politicians in their pockets- hence the lack of interest by both major parties to develop agriculture.

There are other reasons to avoid foreign food products. Last year, the world was horrified as we witnessed the destruction of the Amazon rainforest at the hands of the Brazilian government. The Amazon is being destroyed because the president of Brazil has practically sold large swaths of the forest to agribusinessmen, who are turning the Lungs of the Earth into mega-farms. Many meat, vegetable and beverage products are imported from Brazil into T&T every year. By turning to Brazil for food we are indirectly contributing to the ongoing destruction of the Amazon and the genocide of indigenous people living there. It should also be mentioned here that this will no doubt contribute to climate change, something that can seriously affect our lives as Caribbean people.

Another hindrance to local agriculture has been the habit of both government and opposition parties alike to use fertile farmland for conscruction sites. This is because housing continues to be used as a political tool and not the human right that it is. A separate article about the state of housing will be written in due time; but to address the the topic of agriculture, rest assured that not a single inch of farmland would ever be used for construction projects under an MSJ government. Arable land is a limited resource, especially on an island as small as ours. Every effort must be taken to ensure that such land is protected and utilised in the manner that it ought to be used in.

The establishment of community-based cooperatives will also be encouraged. Beginning at a local government level, each Borough Corporation will establish a number of community farms in order to meet the demands of the population. It should be highlighted that some local government districts (especially those in the built-up, urbanised areas) may not have access to land. This is where indoor and vertical farming can be introduced to ensure that every district can feed its people despite the lack of available land space.

We hope with all our hearts that this COVID-19 crisis passes by without any major fallout for T&T. However even when that happens, we are still far from being out of the woods. For there will be many long battles to fight in the very near future. Because with climate change comes the possibility of droughts, hurricanes and flash floods- things that will no doubt put a strain on our national resources and especially our food supply. One of the ways China was able to contain the COVID-19 virus was due in part to their stockpiling of food supplies for the population. During the course of its long history, the Chinese have had to endure many calamities- natural disasters, disease, war, etc. So it is no wonder that they have figured out that the best way to ensure survival for everyone is to begin by simply making it possible for each person to have a plate of food. We ought to take a page out of China’s book in this regard and turn to our farmers for our survival as a nation.


COVID-19 Exposes Food First Policy


Covid-19 (Coronavirus) was classified by the World Health Organization this week as a pandemic. The aggressive infection rate has forced unprecedented decisions, Italy is on ‘lock down’, President Trump has issued a travel ban on traffic originating in Europe… cancellations of major sporting events. Although Barbados has not reported its first case up to the time of updating the blog, neighbouring English speaking countries have not been so ‘lucky’.

It seems now is a perfect time to place on the agenda the discussion about FOOD SECURITY or to borrow from the late Carmeta Fraser’s lexicon, FOOD FIRST. From the inception of Barbados Underground in 2007 we have had vigorous debate about the need to integrate food production into a service based economy. To date it has been given lip service by successive governments.

We have been producing a type of economist and academic at Cave Hill who are singularly of the view that if it is cheaper to import food, it is better to concentrate on earning forex to procure our food. It is only when we have disruption to global supply chains that we are stunned into realizing such an approach is not sustainable in a world locked at the hip. The technocrats refer to it as globalization. What makes the situation interesting with the Coronavirus is that CHINA, one of the world’s supplier of food and other commodities, is the main source of the disruption.

In today’s press there is an advertisement of former CLICO lands for lease by the takeover company. It will hammer home the realization again that we have available land space to help ourselves to produce food.

Clico_LandsSome will argue Barbados will never be self sufficient in food production – cost of production is too high, however, there is a level of comfort knowing that a country is helping itself to feed its population.  We subsidize tourist travel to Barbados to the tune of millions. There is a comfort knowing that there is a level of local food production to mitigate when disruption to world production is negatively impacted.  The current Minister of Agriculture and his predecessors can pontificate about policy as much as they want, the proof is always in the eating and as often as the blogmaster scans the Central Bank reports, there has been no measurable increase in the output numbers in the agriculture sector since Adam was a lad. The blogmaster accepts that Agrofest is a good show to take the family for the annual lime of the year.

As an old BU family member use to post, ‘are we there yet‘?

Will we allow another crisis to escape us?

Now is a time for the government to shape relevant policy and for the private sector to execute on the policy and change the way we are to solve our problems.

To borrow from another BU commenter, ‘Will our leaders please stand up‘?



Agrofest to the Bottomline

BU research supports that Agrofest started in 2005. It means by any reasonable expectation the objectives of the event should be starting to bear fruit.

What are the objectives?

  • To demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between agriculture and the community.
  • To highlight the impact of agriculture on other economic sectors.
  • To cater to the wide and divergent interests of the Barbadian public.
  • To demonstrate the agricultural career opportunities for young people.
  • To demonstrate the importance of agriculture in feeding and providing economic support to the family.
  • To portray agriculture in a fun and interesting way.

Source: BAS website


The blogmaster respectfully suggests that if we review economic indicators in listed in recent Central Bank reports, there has been no positive movement in the economic indicators measuring agriculture output. The blogmaster agrees attending Agrofest 2020 was a satisfying social event to take the family for a couple of hours.

What say you?


Barbados Pushing Regional Narrative

One of the noticeable marks Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley has been making early in her tenure is on the regional front.  By contrast former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was silent and usurped the leadership role Barbados has played historically in the region. Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the 2019 Caribbean Forum on Regional Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth recommitted Barbados to the CSME project.  She stressed managed migration a la Canada and greater communication must be the focus to deepen regional integration. Following in the footsteps of her BLP predecessor Owen Arthur there is an intent by Mottley- who has lead for CSME- to expand the fiscal and financial space to the benefit of tiny Barbados.

An example: initially the blogmaster was critical of Senator Alphea Wiggins’ appointment as Special Envoy with a mandate to develop a strategic partnership with Suriname.   With a large gathering in parliament why not appoint a member of parliament? Feedback in this space proffered that the  resume of Wiggins the diplomat is ideally suited to the task at hand. Time will tell.

Barbadians have been told by Wiggins about land donated to Barbados by Suriname – in a government to government deal – to be utilized on a pilot basis by local farmers. Although Wiggins has expressed disappointment at the weak response to the opportunity provided to local farmers and private sector there is hope the mindset of our local actors will change from being inwardly focus. In 2013 resident billionaire Sir Kyffin Simpson was reported to have significantly invested in an agriculture project in Guyana.

The farm, located in Santa Fe in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region some 231 miles (or 371 km) south-west of Georgetown, will be producing rice, corn, soya, cow beans, guar and eventually moso bamboo trees primarily for export. Already 10 000 acres are being prepared for cultivation and this will be extended by another 30 000 acres as production is steadily increased. Sir Kyffin has the option of tripling this acreage if the venture proves successful – Sir Kyffin Simpson Shows Leadership Investing in Agriculture

Last week at a business forum to promote trading opportunities in Suriname and Guyana was held in Barbados – opportunities identified agriculture, agro-processing, construction, renewable energy, tourism, education, and services. To add impetus to the message being championed by government, Minister Sandra Husbands with responsibility for  foreign trade could have co-opted support from Sir Kyffin or designate to update on his investment in Guyana.  Local private sector actors sitting on the fence needs to be persuaded to shed a risk averse mindset.

The blogmaster supports the renewed effort to deepen regional integration.  All sensible people will agree small islands in Caricom must do better to improve avenues for functional cooperation. It should be obvious to those with an average level of discernment that both Jamaica and Bahamas in the North share no great appetite for CSME – maybe just for the movement of the unskilled.  The alternative approach by Barbados to create opportunities with our neighbours in the South is a countervailing strategy to salvage the CSME initiative.

The idea to have Barbadian capital and technical resources combined with Guyanese and Suriname significant land and natural resources to the benefit of both countries in large scale agriculture and other opportunities is an approach which keeps hope alive.








Reverse Climate Change – More Animals Required NOT Humans

This is a documentary relating to a letter I sent to you some time ago on agriculture. The way we farm nowadays does not in any way allow for proper land management, water harvesting or soil regeneration. Instead it increases run off, soil erosion and soil nutrient loss.

The majority of Barbadians need to be more aware about the environment, grow a concern for food security instead prefer to be engaged in trivialities.

Thank you Bentley.

Understanding Food and the Ecology

For those who love to read here is a book IN DEFENSE OF FOOD – Thank you Bentley.

Here is another topic Barbadians delight in giving lip service. We have reached a point where we do not intend to attack the serious issue of food security. Equally important is that we do not use our intelligence and formal education to understand how different foods we consume affect our health.

We express horror at the rising numbers of NCDs in Barbados. However the authorities hail the expansion of the Burger Kings, Chefettes and other fast foods outlets as an economic boon. We glamorize the convenience of eating ‘junk food’ because it is the right of the individual to eat as they please, YET, taxpayers will have to pick up the tab when the national health budget is allocated.

Go figure!

Expect to read the usual empty headed nonsense by a few who like a broken lock will opine –

Blame the BLP!

Blame the DLP!

Blame the White man!

Blame the man in the mirror?

A Sorry Tale: Demise of Bajan Cherry, Agriculture and …

Dr. Robert Lucas gave an insight about what has led to the unflattering development of Bajan Cherry. Food for thought – David, blogmaster

I would like to explain some facts. Firstly I just came across this post from a couple of days ago.

I was the agronomist at Soil Conservation who was responsible for the propagation of the Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra) from leaf-tip cuttings from new flushes. This technique hadn’t been used before in Barbados and to ensure rooting of ninety percent the humidity of nursery bed had to be increased to the dew point (point at which there is water condensate on the cuttings to prevent drying out. This posed a problem of damping off due to fungal diseases. To prevent such, all cuttings were treated with a fungicidal dip and the enclosed nursery was subjected to daily sprayings.

The procedure was a success and many plants true to type (same as the parent plant from which the cuttings were taken) were obtained. This was done to ensure that variations in soluble solids were kept to a minimum. Prior to the propagation, several meetings of the Soil Conservation Board took place. Present were Peter Webster, Edward Cumberbatch, David Croney L.G. Miller and myself. Miller was the driving force behind the whole enterprise. At these meetings I pointed out the difficulties that would be encountered (harvesting, cost of production and so on). Miller insisted that he had considered all of the obstacles and as far as he was concerned he was good to go with the project.

I left to study Food Technology as people trained in the discipline would be needed. When I came back on a vacation trip I was told that having gotten Soil Conservation under the aegis of the Agricultural Development corporation to plant cherry trees, Miller was not purchasing the cherries He was getting the finished concentrate from South America. I phoned Miller to ascertain what the real position was. He told me that it was cheaper for him to get the raw material from South America and was no longer interested in the enterprise. I wanted to know from him, why he insisted that Soil Conservation planted the trees if he knew he wasn’t going to use the fruits. He had nothing to say about that.

So soil Conservation was left with a lot of cherry trees, but no one to purchase the fruits. The same thing happened with guava. Sam Bharath in Trinidad had developed the Centeno Prolific ideally suited for processing purposes. I wrote Sam and got him to send cuttings. They were planted out at Swans but nothing came of the enterprise.

Lucas explained further in a second comment:-

At least some good did come about. A lot of unemployed persons harvested the cherries and guavas (at no cost to themselves apart from time and labour) for sale to the public. A real merry -go-round. You will soon hear we need to plant more fruit trees. When I was Soil, I imported new varieties of mango from Florida (Kent,) and avocado (Lula). In the latter case the Lula was imported to ensure that harvesting of avocado extended from June to the end of the year, since harvesting of the local types Pollock and Simmonds ( superb fruits) ended about September. I went through out the country, selecting for avocado on the following traits: absence of water in the seed cavity; ease of peeling; absence of fiber in the flesh; for green color skin (purple colored skin resulted in unsightly looking salads, a result of pigment seeping out). An orchard was established consisting of both avocado and mango.. The orchard was surveyed and the site of each individual type was recorded. I had the foresight to purchase a mist blower (the first to be used in Barbados) for spraying against pest and disease when the plants grew too tall to be sprayed by the use of the ordinary spray can. All of these were left for the persons who came after me. Even wrote an extension [extensive] bulletin on grafting and budding techniques to be used to train workers in propagation techniques. You wouldn’t believe what happened. The avocado trees were destroyed due to bad management, it was claimed wood ants (easy to fix.; slackness). The survey chart of position of and names of and varieties of individual trees was either lost or misplaced. So that’s the position.

Food Fraud MUST Concern Us

The Editor

You may be interested in posting the attached article on food fraud which I did in 2000. The topic is topical as Ms. Ena Harvey talked about the topic in today’s paper [8 August 2019]. The scan is from the original newspaper cuttings and gives a run down on the history of food fraud.

Food fraud is widespread. In the past canned goods were embossed with the expiry dates. The observant consumer would have noticed that these days,the expiry dates are stamped in ink. Obviously,given the right chemical solvents,these inked-on dates can easily be replaced with new dates even after expiry. Unscrupulous persons in the food industry can exploit these opportunities in developing countries quite readily. One way of detecting these types of fraud is by testing for the vitamin content which declines with time,especially with canned products.The food products near the expiry dates are sold off en mass by auction very cheaply. It cost a few cents to relabel and change the expiry dates.

I am sorry about the quality of the scans. This one is some what better. At least it can be read.

Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D, Food Biotechnologist

food fraud.png

Agrofest Noise!

The Editor

Barbados Underground


Dear Sir/Madam,

There was an article in Barbados Today of 16th.February 2019 entitled “Dumped.” In the article Mr. James Paul bemoans the fact that the two largest sponsors have jumped ship.

In 1971 as a final year student in agriculture at the University of the West indies, St. Augustine Campus;Tom Henderson, Professor of Agricultural Extension had the following to say about agricultural exhibitions: he considered them to be expensive and ineffectual in getting persons interested in agriculture. He admitted that exhibitions (Agrofest is an exhibition) were glittery but were not good at getting results. Instead, he pointed out that it was better to utilize “method demonstrations”when trying to influence persons to take up a career in agriculture. In method demonstrations, the extension officer works intimately with a small group, demonstrating lets say on how to bud and graft fruit trees, getting them to actively participate in the process. (I actually did this at Soil Conservation and trained lots of people to bud and graft and even published an extension bulletin on the topic, so I am speaking from personal experience here).

Last year after Agrofest, Paul was interviewed by David Ellis on Down to Brass Tacks. Ellis wanted to know what were the long term goals for Agrofest and agriculture as seen from Paul’s perspective. Paul spewed out the usual spiel about getting drying facilities for onions and so on. Dr. Brian Eavis did all of what Paul was talking about in late 1960’s and early1970’s. Not surprisingly, there was no vision on Paul’s part. There was no plan for thirty years down the road. For example like increasing yield of alcohol from molasses by either genetic modification or by selective pressure on strains of yeast and at the same time maintaining the same flavour profile. Barbados is in a competitive world; other countries are trying to increase their competitive edge in the rum industry. As Dr. Frank Ward recently said, the future of sugar industry is rum not sugar.

Agriculture locally, is permeated by square pegs in round holes. There are the ridiculous cases of former policemen and account clerks with no specialized training in agriculture holding down a high post in government corporations and else where; who keep a lot of noise.


Robert D. Lucas, PH.D and CFS

Certified Food Scientist

Dr.Lucas Reply to Ministers’ Ideas on Ensilage and Water Quality in the Swamp

The Editor

Barbados Underground


Dear Sir/Madam,

Recently, there was an article aired in the media concerning the utilization of fish by ensilaging techniques. According to Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, “between 30 and 70 per cent of fish caught by local fishermen is currently being wasted”. The project, entitled the “Fish Waste Silage” project is aimed “at transforming parts of the fish which currently go to waste into perfectly safe, nutritious products for human and livestock consumption”. “We are not catching enough fish.  And even though we are not catching enough fish, a lot of what we do catch is wasted . . . they say up to 30 to 70 per cent of every fish is wasted in Barbados and that is” ….. said Humphrey, who added “that a large percentage of the fish caught was thrown back into the nearshore, polluting the waters around the island and creating an environmental hazard”. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir added that the production of feed from fish could yield tremendous benefits for farmers struggling to make ends meet, given the high cost of imported feed for their livestock (New use for discarded fish .Barbados Today, February 1, 2019).

All I could do was laugh, as judging by the muddled statements above, one is left unsure of what exactly the minister wants to convey to the public. Is he saying that the dressing out percentage (DOP) of fish which have been gutted, skinned and so on, is between 30-70 percent of the original weight of the undressed fish? Or is he saying that between 30-70 percent of the catch is so-called trash fish? It is instructive to note that the actual tonnage of fish caught is not given. Is he talking about 30-70 percent of 100,000 tons or is the figure 5,000 tons? In any event, according (Barlow, S.M. Fish meal manufacture in the tropics: Proceedings of the Conference on the Handling,Processing and Marketing of Tropical Fish, Tropical Product Institute, London, 5th.-9th. June 1976, p223-237):“ it is necessary to have a realistic estimate of the raw material which will be available to the factory and its seasonality. This will have an important effect on the economics of a fish meal operation and the type and capacity of the plant required.” These were profound words then and now. I am not sure about the throwing back into sea of fish; is he referring to the local fishermen whose boats are not that big anyhow or to the Japanese and Chinese factory ships?

Let me start by saying that my doctoral thesis was in the field of fermented sausages. (Department of Chemical Engineering, St. Augustine, UWI. Trinidad,1980). Ensilaging of fish waste is a fermented procedure. In either instance,fermentation can be effected by the addition of organic acid or by the the use of lactic-acid bacteria. In the latter case, a pure culture of the desired strain of lactic-acid bacteria(L. plantarum) is used. A homo-fermentative strain is required ( that is a strain which produces lactic acid as apart from a hetero-fermentative which produces lactic acid and carbon dioxide for obvious reasons).In both instances, there is a need to effect a rapid decrease in the pH of the sausage dough or the fish waste. A pH value of 4.3 is normally adequate enough to preclude the growth and elaboration of toxins by pathogens. The process depends basically on the lactic acid or added organic acid creating conditions hostile to the growth of micro-organisms. What the minister is talking about is nothing new. I have written numerous letters to press about using fermentation techniques to obtain animal rations. On the 10th.August 1994, in a letter to the Advocate entitled : “True sustainability”, I outlined ways of converting so-called trash fish into surimi (a fish product that is bland and can be kept frozen for a long time without becoming rancid,that is used in imitation crab and so on). I also outlined the process in a paper (Lucas, R. D. 2005. “A Preliminary Sensory Evaluation Of Fish Burgers And Breakfast Sausages Made From king Fish(Scomberomorns cavalla)Surimi In Grenada, West Indies.” Proceedings of The First Biennial Science and Technology Symposium, Barbados National Council For Science And Technology,March 8-9th. Pp 38-40).


Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.,CFS

Certified Food Scientist.

Roundup KILLS!

Submitted by Green Monkey

Important info for workers in the agricultural sector and hobby farmers/gardeners/landscapers etc. who use Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, especially those who do so on a regular basis. In light of the evidence produced in a recent US lawsuit, anyone using Roundup herbicides would be wise to exercise extreme caution. According to the jury verdict, the warnings and handling instructions issued by the manufacturer are inadequate to protect users from harm. (Note that Monsanto was recently taken over by Bayer who said they will drop the Monsanto name from products but still maintain sales of Monsanto developed agro-chemicals, GM seeds etc..)

By Catherine J. Frompovich

The Media Relations personnel of the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC emailed me at 6:20 PM Friday, August 10th, the verdict rendered by the jury in the 8-week trial whereby the jury found unanimously that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer caused Mr. Johnson to develop NHL, and that Monsanto failed to warn of this severe health hazard. Importantly, the jury also found that Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct.”

Read full artcile – https://www.activistpost.com/2018/08/monsanto-taken-to-the-cleaners-in-jury-verdict-dwayne-johnson-v-monsanto.html

Children with autism have a peculiar digestive system disorder, as was recently eloquently described by Dr. Arthur Krigsman at the AutismOne conference.  How might glyphosate (Roundup) cause this?

In May of 2018 I had the opportunity to attend the AutismOne conference in Chicago, Illinois [1]. As in previous years, it was an exciting event where many experts, mostly alternative medicine practitioners, gave impassioned presentations offering their latest insights into various features of autism or biometrics linked to autism or treatment programs that they found to be beneficial. As in the past, I came away with increased optimism that we might finally solve the autism puzzle, along with many new leads on research topics that I needed to dig into more thoroughly, and renewed hope that autism can in fact be reversed.

Read full article – http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-glyphosate-poisoning-explains-peculiarities-autism-gut


Final Reply by Dr. Lucas Responds to Peter Webster’s Deleterious Effect of Seaweed on Soils Piece

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

In a blog (4th. August) in reply to my last article: Webster had this to say: “The only thing obvious about this statement is the contradiction i.e. that the sodium is leached and yet there is an accumulation. Barbados limestone soils are well drained and there can be no accumulation of sodium ions which are readily leached”.

My reply is as follows: “Webster is obviously out of his depth when it comes to surface chemistry and West Indian soils. Let me explain again for his benefit that since sodium has a smaller ionic volume/radius it not adsorbed as readily as potassium and therefore is leached down the soil profile. The black earth soils of Barbados have been classified by Vernon And Carroll(1965, ICTA) as soil type 30. Soil type 30 is what is called a montmorillonite soil ( and has what is known as a two -in one lattice structure). This soil type has a high clay content as can be readily attested after a rainfall by walking through it. The soil adheres to one shoes and is difficult to handle. Indeed after downpours pools of water are often seen dotting the surface of these soils. I will also now explain what is meant by capillary action that I alluded to, that Webster again selectively does not cite. After soluble salts have leached down the soil profile, when a period of prolong dry weather occurs, the soil pore-space acts like what happens when blotting paper is dipped in water. In the latter case water rises up the blotting paper by capillary action. A similar event occurs in the soil. Since there is a water deficit between the water content of the surface (lacks water) and the soil solution down the profile that contains salts (sodium, since I am dealing seaweeds), there is upward movement of salt containing water. When this water reaches the surface, solar evaporation takes place and the soil becomes saline.

I want to disabuse Webster of the view that by washing seaweed one can remove the salt it contains. According to TIC Gums product data the sodium content of various purified seaweed products are as follows per 100 grams. There substances have under gone several washing to meet food-grade standards.

Ticagel 121-AFG Powder Sodium: 619 mg.

Agaroid RS-507 Powder Sodium : 618.mg.

TIC Pretested Agar Agar 100 FCC/NF Powder Sodium: 487mg


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

Certified Food Scientist.

Dr. Lucas Responds to Peter Webster’s Deleterious Effect of Seaweed on Soils Piece

Submitted by Robert D. Lucas, Ph.D. and CFS, Certified Food Scientist


[Barbados Underground]

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

There was an article in the Nation of 26th July entitled “How to handle sargassum” by Mr. Peter Webster. Webster in paragraph one seems to have a problem with “however, if large concentrations of sodium salts are added to the soil.’In paragraph two he cites some work done in Portugal that indicates sargassum “has a strong potential as functional food ingredient.” These comments of Webster are now dealt with.

All sodium salts are soluble and there is therefore a tendency for these salts to be leached downward. In periods of drought, sodium salts rise by capillary action to the surface of the soil. It ought to be obvious that with the repeated addition of seaweed to the soil, there will be an accumulation of sodium in the soil profile; that under dry conditions can rise by capillary action and affect both the salinity and sodic nature of the soil. Is Webster suggesting that the sargassum is only going to be applied once to the soil? Webster conveniently ignored the fact that in paragraph two of my article it is stated “the deleterious effects described by Hunte…can be attributed to the ..development over time of soils that are saline-sodic.” Webster makes an issue of the ratio of potassium (K) to sodium (Na) in the living seaweed In any event K:Na in the living seaweed has nothing to do with what happens when seaweeds are decomposed by microbial action in the soil. As previously stated, since K has a greater ionic volume/radii than Na, it is adsorbed before Na.

I have addressed the uses of seaweeds in food in my article of 14th July in your on-line paper.


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

Certified Food Scientist.

Barbados Improvements Part 3: Agriculture

Submitted by Freedom Crier


Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) & Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

Investigate the production (oil palm) as the replacement for sugar cane production including on hilly or semi-arid lands. The infrastructure that we have in sugar plantations is the same as required for this type plantation crop and we have an oil processing plant in Barbados i.e. Roberts Manufacturing. Just a small amount of retooling is necessary. The by-products of Oil Palm production EG: palm kernel meal can be utilised and be consumed as chicken feed, cattle, sheep & goat feed, instead of the importation of feed and feed stocks. The soya bean stock that is imported now to make Oil, Margarine, etc. could be a thing of the past. Palms grow well in Barbados from coconut to ornamental palms. It is easy to include/change to Oil Palm & Date Palm if feasible and the topography and climate are conducive to these crops (Date Palm a more high valued product to be grown in the more arid parts of the island i.e. St. Lucy, St. Phillip) Another benefit to oil palm is the use of the land between and under the trees for raising cattle and Black Belly Sheep. This will also reduce the cost for weed control. There is a host of information on this type of farming on the net and can be had HERE.

Palm oil Plantation                                                     Palm oil fruit cutting

The main objection to palm oil production are environmental such as the removal of forests to plant the trees and the destruction of the habitat for the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Orangutans. None of these apply to Barbados as the land has been cleared hundreds of years ago to grow sugar cane. Utilisation of the idle land for productive and sustainable use will help to reduce the rodent and other pest populations currently in these areas. The selected oil palms bear fruit after 3 years.


Palm oil tree fruit







A similar palm tree, Bactris gasipaes, that bears fruit is Peewah or peach palm found in Trinidad. At this time of year it is sold like we sell Ackee at the side of the road and the fruit looks exactly like the fruit of the oil palm. The fruit is boiled and peeled and the flesh eaten. What left is the small coconut on the inside that you break open and eat.

2        Sugar Cane:


Government has indicated that it wants to keep the sugar cane industry for both production and aesthetic reasons with the countryside looking clean cut and manicured but a drive through the countryside you will see the amount of rab land that is idle and not the Barbados I remember. Most of the molasses used in Barbados is imported from Guyana. That is wise in that we import molasses and make rum and sell a value added product overseas as seen in Mount Gay Distilleries and to a greater extent RL Seale a contracted rum producer for the world’s best companies. Another product that we can make use of is the production of cane juice. Cane juice takes the major cost out of the production of sugar and every Bajan loves cane juice. Every tourist would want to drink cane juice, every hotel would offer cane juice. If the price was right. There are many health benefits for cane juice as the nutrients & enzymes probiotics are still present at this stage of production (Cane juice the new energy drink? Sure beats red bull) (and or create new signature drinks for bars utilising cane juice, a competition can bring out the best of our local bar-tenders talent. A rum and cane juice with a wedge of lime anyone?). At present cane juice sells for $14 for a half gallon in the supermarket. Imagine the volume that can be sold if it was wholesaled at <$5 per half gallon. The hotel industry will lap it up. If you felt that we still want to produce sugar how economical is that if you cannot produce cane juice for <$5 but want to produce sugar for $2.25 per lb. in the supermarket with all of the costs of production. Guyanese sugar sells for half of the Barbados sugar $1.10 per lb. We sell Molasses for $2 per gal at the port and cannot sell the juice for <$5? This molasses item is the cheapest item of food value in Barbados and we can import more from Guyana. Guyana does not have a tourist industry can we import frozen cane juice from Guyana if we cannot produce enough? A few small modern plants with the proper facilities can process the cane juice, filter & store it frozen or deliver fresh same day delivery. This item is year round revenue with a bump in extra wages for the tourist season as many more persons will be enjoying the juice.


3        Coconut:


We have a huge market for coconut water we know palms grow well in Barbados we should increase the production of coconuts for water and Jelly for the supermarkets and the Tourist market/Hotels. Beach bars sell branded coconuts to the cruise ship passengers now, and it does not cost foreign exchange. We however have a shortage of coconut water and its products now. The usage of coconut water can increase by many multiples utilising both the plantation system and small farmer setup that we currently have. This crop is year round revenue which means no yearly pressure months of high wages and waiting years to get the money repaid. This however depends on whether the trees are newly planted (you have to wait about 5-7 years before significant production starts.) or you use better farming practices such as fertiliser to increase yields from exiting trees.  All of the investigative work is being done by the Barbados Ministry of Agriculture. Just the will and literally seed money by the government is now needed to bring in the high yielding seed nuts. The proposed first shipment is about 6,000 treated nuts. These can be grown with the palm trees as a mix plantation crop during the same time the germinating and initial nurturing of the palm oil palms trees.


4        King Grass:


King Grass is a tall grass and is easy to grow. It does not deplete the soil of its nutrients and can be grown repeatedly on the same spot. An amount is presently being grown and sold as fuel to BL&P to generate electricity it does not require the looking after and fertilising like sugar cane plants. As an added benefit that hardly any one talks about is that this grass is loved by cows and black belly sheep as forage. If it is encouraged it may be the start of a beef and lamb industry. The more that cows and sheep walk to forage for their grass the leaner and tougher the meat, now with the advent of the grass being provided the animals will not have to walk and they will get fatter and the meat will be more tender and can be in greater demand. Barbados beef does have a nice and desirable distinctive taste but tough, only a real life experiment will tell if the beef will indeed be tenderer. With this king grass the dairy cows may be more tender when put out to market as their forage will be given them daily. Note: that this is currently done on dairy farms at present with other grasses in the form of silage.

5        Medical Marijuana:


Marijuana will grow well in the type of soil and conditions we have. Medical marijuana is the plant without the THC the ingredient that makes one high. To grow this we will need to process it to the stage of the oil and tablet form, not export the raw material. We want the value add to remain in Barbados. This type of item will be in greater demand all over the world while the rest of the world concerns itself with decriminalising the use of high THC marijuana for smoking. The medical uses for this type of marijuana have greater access to the world for a host of illnesses. This is the plant with great future use in the medical industry and would have a premium value attached to it.

See benefits of Medical Marijuana:


Marijuana growing and reaped in Barbados.


6        Perennial Larceny:


The obvious problem that no politician venture to talk about. They may talk about it as in “we import too many items we can grow here in Barbados” or “we need food security” or “as a nation we are living too high we need to live within our means” or “Buy Bajan” or “have your own kitchen garden” but never that the small farmer who tries and grows most of the vegetable crops in Barbados are being robbed daily by crop thieves at night, the large scale farmers have already given up. Why plant and tend a crop for 10 weeks and the last week half is stolen and if you set a guard the last week, the 9th week half of it is stolen or the guard says” I did not see anything I must have been at the other end of the field”. We now have a situation that the large farmers are out and the small farmers who supply the bulk of local produce only get to sell half of what they sowed. The perennial larceny law needs up grading. The penalties needs stiffening, the police needs to respond within 20 minutes and the people protecting their land/livelihood/family can be given permission to use any type of force including using firearms. Now you know why yams/onions/carrots/sweet potatoes/butternut squash/water melons/other melons/beans/peppers/ ETC. have so high a selling price.


Since the PM rightly so, has embarked on a plan to make Barbados Government work and work correctly get the AG to do his part.


Max Total Acreage  that can be Available
Suggested usage Acres %
King Grass 10,000 36
Oil Palm 9,000 32
Coconut 3,000 11
Sugar Cane Juice 5,000 18
Medical Marijuana 1,000 4
Total 28,000 100
Barbados has 28,000 acres of arable land


All of the waste that might be generated by these products/crops (oil palm/coconut etc.) can be utilised with the King Grass to be burnt to create electricity and any resultant ash can be recycle back to the farms/plantations as a potash source for fertilising crops.

Based on the topography of the hilly country side of St. Andrew & St Joseph those lands are presently not utilised, which is the better crop to use that will be easier/practical to get out of the valleys. – Oil palms and medical marijuana

BL&P can say now how much King Grass they can use now and in the future and if they want to use it as the main source for their boilers and the farmers can calculate how many acres are needed to satisfy BL&P with the rest for sheep/goat & cattle forage. No more Forex for furnace oil going out of the country.

All said and done Barbados can have a bright future in agriculture if the above are implemented and we have not touched as yet on the expanded role of the Agricultural station propagation unit in fruit (& other types) enhance trees or an education program how to….. Graph trees (Air Layering Propagation)/control pest/fungi/fertiliser use/their outreach to house holders. I have seen dounce/dunks the size of a golden apple and sugar apples/guava that could not fit in one hand. We need those here in Bim.

It will take a while for any vision of agriculture to materialise the fastest one that can start is Sugar Cane Juice followed by King Grass & Medical Marijuana. Oil Palm & Coconut have a few years before we can see the results. We can start with a real vision (like above) without which we will all perish.


See also:

Merit Based Immigration & Citizenship by Investment:



Barbados Improvements Part 1: Bridgetown



Barbados Improvements Part 2: Thoughts & Ideas




What to do with Sargassum

Submitted by Robert D. Lucas,Ph.D. and CFS, Certified Food Scientist

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam,

The following is an overview of the uses of seaweed in the food industry. Suggestions are also proposed for prospective uses of the product.

Seaweeds belong to a group commonly called macro-algae or  hydrocolloids in the food industry. The  latter name derives from the propensity of the substances to form viscous dispersions and or gels when dispersed in water  (colloidal sols) and from the extensive hydroxyl groups with which the substances can form attachments with water molecules.. Hydrocolloids are a heterogeneous group of long chain polymers (polysaccharides{sugars} and proteins). Some of the amino acids in the protein chain contain sulfur (for example; methionine). These are broken down by sulfur using bacteria into hydrogen sulfide and other noxious substances. Hydrocolloids are widely used in the food industry because of their ability to modify the rheology of food systems This include two basic properties of food systems namely, flow behavior (viscosity) and mechanical solid (texture)property (Saha,D.and Bhattacharya,S.(2010) “Hydrocolloids as thickening and gelling agents in food: a critical review.” J. Food Sci.Technol. 47:6: 587-597.).

According to McHugh. J.D. 2003. “A Guide to the Seaweed Industry.” FAO. Fisheries Technical Paper #44:: “The seaweed industry provides a wide variety of products that have an estimated total annual value of US$ 5.5-6 billion. Food products for human consumption contribute about US$ 5 billion of this. Substances that are extracted from seaweeds -hydrocolloids – account for a large part of the remaining billion dollars, while smaller, miscellaneous uses, such as fertilizers and animal feed additives,  cosmetics and the manufacture of paper make up the rest.”

Hydrocolloids fall under the heading of functional food additives,. They are widely used in many food formulations to improve quality attributes and shelf-life. The two main uses are as thickening and gelling agents. As thickening agents, they find uses in soups, gravies, salad dressings, sauces and toppings while as gelling agents, they are extensively used in products like jam, jelly, marmalade, restructured foods and low sugar/calorie gels (Saha and Bhattacharya. 2010).

Seaweeds are classified in commerce according to pigmentation as: red(used for agar and carrageenan in the food and microbiology) and  brown or green. Sargassum seaweeds (SW) are brown. Brown seaweeds are used for the manufacture of aginlates for the food industry. Apart from being thickeners, alginates have some applications that are not related to either their viscosity or gel properties. They act as stabilizers in ice cream; addition of alginates reduce the formation of ice crystals during freezing, giving a smooth product  Alginate gels are used in re-structured or re-formed food products. For example, re-structured meats can be made by taking meat pieces, binding them together and shaping them to resemble usual cuts of meat, such as nuggets, roasts, meat loaves, even steaks.They are also used in the controlled release of medicinal drugs and other chemicals. In some applications, the active ingredient is placed in a calcium alginate bead and slowly released as the bead is exposed in the appropriate environment.

Available information on Sargassum natans and fluitans, the two species of primary concern across the Caribbean, is sparse (Michelle Morrison, CPI and Daniel Gray. The Caribbean Council,  Anaerobic Digestion Economic Feasibility Study: Generating energy from waste, sewage and Sargassum Seaweed in the OECS :CPI Report Number: CPI-SP-RP-141(31/01/2017).It was also concluded that it was not economically feasible to generate bio-gas using anaerobic digestion since SW have low biochemical methane potentials (BMP). Anaerobiosis using pure culture techniques were apparently not used. Using pure culture techniques one can swamp the indigeneous microflora of the substrate with the microflora of choice, thereby controlling the rate of the process using continuous anaerobiosis (by using pure cultures other organisms that can divert the production of methane are effectively inhibited. Must also be noted that the carbohydrate content of seaweed as a substrate varies during the course of the season. According to Lenstra and others (.2011).Ocean Seaweed Biomass For large scale bio-fuel production Energy Research Center,Netherlands (ECN) S. natans has the following chemical composition :on a dry weight basis(dw) Proteins;6.59%; Fat 0.54%;Carbohydrate 76.43%; Phosphorus  0.082; Potassium19.56%; Energy (kJ/100g dry matter) 1410.

SW structurely consists of linear polysaccharides made up of 25-30 glucose units linked by(beta) b 1-3 glycosidic bonds. In some cases b1-6 glycosidic bonds occur. Since the cell wall of SW contains cellulose. the biomass must be pretreated and  then (1) treated with (hydrolyzed ) cellulase enzyme systems supplemented with β-glucosidase followed by(2) fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae(yeasts). Having stage(1)immediately followed by stage (2), result in what is known as a two-stage process which is economically more expensive. It is better to have stage (1) and (2) operating simultaneous, using continuous fermentation in the production of alcohol This can be done by the use of immobilized enzyme technology. In immobilized enzymes, the enzymes are enmeshed in a membrane (made of aginlate) which facilitates the reuse of the enzymes reducing costs and increasing reaction efficiencies.

SW can be used as an animal feed for ruminants only at present, since poultry do not have the necessary enzyme systems required to handle b glycosidic links. Feed from SW, has a low protein content  when compared to soy. To augment the protein content, SW can be used as a substrate for the production of single cell protein. Using continuous fermentation techniques, protein yields as high as 40% on a  dry-weight basis can be obtained. Single cell protein can be used in the formulation of non-ruminant rations as I having been advocating for more than twenty years (letters to the Editor, Barbados Advocate). Thinking long term, the gene for the beta glycoside using gene editing techniques can be inserted into a bacterium found normally in the gut microflora of non-ruminants. The edited bacterium with the added gene can then be reinserted into the gut microflora of the non-ruminant by incorporating it into the rations.. The non-ruminant is now able to utilize feeds made from SW.  Alternatively, SW itself can be gene edited and the gene for the  b condition changed to the a state, making it possible to have feed that can be utilized by both ruminants and non-ruminants directly.

Brown macroalgae, Sargassum ssp., are considered as a potential biomass source for energy production due to their relatively fast growth rates, ease of harvesting, and low pre-production cost. Sargassum fluitans, S. natans, and S. filipendula are three of the most abundant macroalgae species found at Puerto Rico’s coasts. The lipids content of Sargassum spp. ranges between 1.0 and 2.5% (total lipids)Diaz-Vazquez and others (2015) “Demineralization of Sargassum spp. macroalgae biomass: selective hydrothermal liquefaction process for bio-oil production.”Front.Energy Res. 3:6..

If the temperature and pressure  of carbon dioxide are both increased  to be at or above its critical point ,it can adopt properties midway between a gas and a liquid. More specifically, it behaves as a super critical fluid above its critical temperature 31.10 °C, (87.98 °F) and critical pressure of 72.9 atm, (7.39 MPa, 1,071 psi), expanding to fill its container like a gas but with a density like that of a liquid. Under these conditions carbon dioxide(CO2) acts as a solvent and removes fats/oils from a product. It is commonly used in the food industry in the manufacture of decaffeinated coffee. This method can be used to extract oil from SW without the residual harmful effects of the use of hexane, the solvent currently in  wide spread use.

SW is prevalent throughout the earth’s oceans. There has been a lot of noise locally about how to handle the problem. As far as I am concerned, there is no reason why the approach used in the fishing industry should not be adopted. With the use of drones and appropriate algorithms or biosensors one can easily detect the position of SW. Using algorithms, the difference in color of the ocean where the SW is versus where it is absent can be used to pinpoint the product. Alternatively, since S.natans has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen( by an associated epiphyte or cyanobacteria), a build up of or a depletion of nitrates can be used to detect SW, since the background levels in the ocean will be different. Similarly,the same should hold good for carbon dioxide(CO2) which is utilized during photosynthesis. Finally, there should be a temperature differential, due to the metabolic processes underway in the developing SW and the ocean’s background temperatures.  Lenstra and others (.2011) have outlined measures for fishing and harvesting SW. Recently a Caribbean country purchased two seaweed harvesters. So, instead of waiting for SW to come to Barbados, Barbados should go hunting for it.


Robert D. Lucas,Ph.D. and CFS

Certified Food Scientist.

Deleterious Effects of Seaweed as a Soil Amendment

Submitted by Robert D . Lucas, Ph. D, CFS, Certified Food Scientist

Recently, there has been a hue and cry over the use of Sargassum seaweed as a soil amendment locally. Mr. Joshua Forte has been touting the benefits to be derived  from the use of the fertilizer. On the other hand, Ms. Deborah Hunte, President of the Farmers’ Association of Barbados, has aired her reservations about the use of the fertilizer. Ms. Hunte is on safe grounds scientifically as I will show.

Anyone who has been trained in agricultural sciences (specifically in soil science) would be aghast at the ignorance displayed locally. The deleterious effects which have been described by Ms. Hunte in St. Lucy, can be attributed to the development over time of soils that are called saline-sodic.  In the case of saline soils, the difference in the osmotic pressure between soluble salts in the soil solution and added salts derived from the seaweed, results in the formation of saline soils which affect plant growth over a period of time. Eventually, the salt content of the added fertilizers becomes greater than the salt content of the soil solution; as a result, there is a flow of water from the soil solution towards the fertilizer. This results in the salt content of the soil solution becoming more concentrated. In addition there is  transpiration of water by the plant: this water is adsorbed by the plant roots from the soil solution: and there is also the action of solar evaporation of water from the soil solution. These two factors which are called evapo-transpiration result in an increase in soil salinity as well. If the saline content is  high enough it can negatively affect plant growth, resulting in reduced crop yields and even plant death under severe conditions.

In the case of sodic soils, a feature known as the  cation exchange capacity(CEC) of the soil comes into play. This feature is best explain in terms of surface chemistry and the mono-layer adsorption (adsorption not absorption) on a surface. Soil particles and soil organic matter are negatively charged. The metallic radicals of dissolved salts in the soil solution are positively charged and are adsorbed onto the negatively charged soil particles mentioned above. Adsorption is directly proportional to the size of the charge on the metallic radical and its ionic radius/volume. For example  calcium sulfate CaSO4  = Ca ++ + SO4– –. (Ca++ is the metallic radical). Ca ++  is adsorbed before a sodium Na+. since it has a charge of plus two, whereas, sodium has a charge of plus one. Calcium also has a greater ionic volume. However,  if  large concentrations of sodium salts are added to the soil, sodium is then adsorbed onto the surface of soil particles. If fifteen percent or more  of the CEC of a soil has adsorbed sodium, the soil a sodic one. Soil sodicity causes degradation of soil structure which results in soils difficult to till, poor seed germination and restricted plant root growth.

Digressing, recently Morocco donated one million dollars for the Ministry of Agriculture to carry out a survey of soil fertility in Barbados. Vernon, K.C and Carroll, D.M (1965) “Soil and Land Use Surveys # 18, Barbados,” Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture  (ICTA) have done detail surveys of soils of Barbados and the other  Caribbean Islands. The fertility of the soils and the land use patterns to be adopted for Barbadian soils have been documented by Vernon and Carroll. It seems that The Ministry wants to re-invent the wheel.