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.

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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.

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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.

#foodfirst
#carmeta

Successive Governments Turn Blind Eye to Squatters at Grantley Adams International Airport

The blogmaster received several requests to highlight the matter raised in today’s Sunday Sun (p.3) under the heading SQUATTING OUT OF CONTROL.

BU followers from the 2008 period will recall the issue of unbridled immigration frequently debated in this space. The blogmaster defended a position that unchecked immigration was not the best policy. There were many stories reported about Guyanese being taken advantage of in the construction sector. There is one story about pig pens being rented to Guyanese which still resonates with the blogmaster.

Then there was the Shanique Myrie affair which brought to the fore the growing number of night club dancers and prostitutes visiting Barbados to earn a living under the freedom of movement (CSME) arrangement.  To some of us who are not ostriches, we are aware it is big business – we have the island girls, however less is said about the Europeans on the West Coast here to do a similar job.

There were a few talking heads and bleeding hearts who promoted the view that the blogmaster was xenophobic for wanting to manage immigration to Barbados. In this matter we cannot give Ambassador to Caricom David Commisiong a pass. We respect the fact he is a declared regionalist, however, an ideology cannot be at the expense of being pragmatic or exercising commonsense. Practising open borders makes no sense for any country especially a small island like Barbados.

Today’s Sunday Sun story details what happens when national imperatives are sacrificed at the altar of stupidity. From 2007 when 36 squatters gathered at Rock Hall, St. Philip and were served notice to vacate the area to 2019 where the recent count is 300.

Aviation officials have complained that the galvanize roofs of the squatter’s (illegal)  houses pose a threat to air traffic. The blogmaster can say with certainty that in any well managed country squatters would not have been allowed to plant houses in the zone space of an international airport. And importantly now that it has been brought again to public attention, no sensible member of parliament for the area would be quoted as follows: –

I am doing a compilation of the information. We are collating data on the situation at Rock Hall. We went out in the field in about three occasions, but there is so much to compile…[the exercise he said was not about] chasing people off the land.

Really Minister Indar Weir? You must be given the award for the WTF statement.

Here is what we know, we have 300 hundred illegal structures built in an airport zone. Here it is we are being told, Barbados is proceeding to acquire Category I designation and your enlightened government has been turning a blind eye to the squatting at Rock Hall?

The other point to note is that YOU Minister Weir and representative for St. Phillip South would have canvassed this areas just over one year ago to solicit votes. What collating data on the situation what!

You politicians are all the Rh same. The blogmaster recalls Don Blackman and Trevor Prescod doing the same as you dealing with the squatters in the water zone of the Belle many years ago.

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

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Barbados,W.I

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).

Sincerely

Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.,CFS

Certified Food Scientist.


Is Agriculture and Food Security Important?

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Indar Weir, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

The Ministry of Agriculture under the leadership of David Estwick in the former government became an invisible ministry. While we accept that a lack of resources would have impacted how government carried out its business, a nation that relegates food security to the back burner should expect to be haunted by the decision in a volatile global sphere.

How difficult is it to cultivate linkages between locally produced agriculture, tourism, government (Barbados School Meals, Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and the wider community to guarantee sufficient demand? What is the scorecard of the Barbados Agriculture Society (BAS)? The output from the agriculture sector based on the central bank reports tracking GDP by Sector and Acticity has not shown any appreciable increase in the last decade.

A few weeks ago BU family member Bentley Norville shared the following document to poke those currently responsible to prioritized matters pertaining to agriculture. We hope current minister of agriculture and FOOD SECURITY Indar Weir takes heed.