Tag Archives: Barbados Agriculture

Aquaponics makes farming profitable and productive

Barbados aquaponics

by Damian Hinkson

If farming were easy we would all be doing it! After all, food is our most basic need.

So it stands to reason that farming should be profitable, however that’s not the case. I will explain why using the three points below and then provide one solution to make farming profitable in Barbados.

First point is that we need to take a look at the big picture. If it was an equation farming would equal (carbon/nitrogen) + photosynthesis = calories. Each of the 3 parts requires energy inputs to bring the product to point of consumption.

Second, the source of all energy on earth is the sun and the general rule is; the quicker it can be harvested the more sustainable it is, while the longer it is stored the more harmful it becomes. (eg: hours from solar panels vs. thousands of years from oil/gasoline.)

The last point and the only one under man’s control is; control the energy and you control civilization. Unfortunately older type, harmful energy is easier to control therefore it is the type of energy our current civilization is built upon. Continue reading

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Should Barbados allow the Monsanto seed monopoly? Can we stop it even if we want to?

Monsanto Seeds

“Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not “creating” or “inventing” a plant. These are seeds of deception — the deception that Monsanto is the creator of seeds and life; the deception that while Monsanto sues farmers and traps them in debt, it pretends to be working for farmers’ welfare, and the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of superpests and superweeds.”

… from the Global Research article The Seeds Of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming

“Monsanto works with farmers from around the world to make agriculture more productive and sustainable. Our technologies enable farmers to get more from every acre of farmland.

Specifically, we are working to double yields in our core crops by 2030. These yield gains will come from a combination of advanced plant breeding, biotechnology, and improved farm-management practices.”

… from the Monsanto website Our Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture

“In the nearly 20 years of applied use of G.E. in agriculture there have been two notable ‘successes,’ along with a few less notable ones. These are crops resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (Monsanto develops both the seeds and the herbicide to which they’re resistant) and crops that contain their own insecticide. The first have already failed, as so-called superweeds have developed resistance to Roundup, and the second are showing signs of failing, as insects are able to develop resistance to the inserted Bt toxin — originally a bacterial toxin — faster than new crop variations can be generated.”

… from the NYT as quoted in Prison Planet’s Even the NY Times is now rejecting Monsanto GMO science

BFP thanks Green Monkey for suggesting this article

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Dr. Robert Lucas: Taking issue with the scientific illiterates

Barbados Sugar Cane.jpg

Tropical soils, Temperate soils: What’s the difference and does it matter?

In the Advocate newspaper of 8th April 2013, there was an article captioned “Organic agriculture can boost restaurant sub-sector.” Immediately below the caption in bold font was the following statement: “In temperate countries like the UK, the organic matter content stood at 5%. In Barbados on the other hand….the organic matter content in most soils was less than one percent.” The statement also appeared in paragraph five of the article. In paragraph eight of the same article, the following appeared: “Conventional methods contribute to green house gas emissions and can cause inefficiencies in energy use..” The two statements were attributed to the National Co-ordinator of the United Nations Development Facility Small Grants Program (GEF SGP).

In biology there is a concept called the temperature quotient. The temperature quotient is a ratio of the velocity of a process at a given temperature to that at a temperature 10 °C lower. In biological systems the temperature quotient is about 2-3. This means that there is (using the lower figure) a doubling of the rate of a biological reaction for every ten degrees increase in temperature. This doubling effect occurs up to certain temperature beyond which, there is an adverse reaction due to effect of heat. Since tropical countries are hotter than temperate ones, one would expect tropical soils to have little or no soil organic matter. Obviously, if fresh vegetation or pen manure is added to tropical soils, initially, soil organic matter will be high. This, however, is only so for a short time. The duration of organic matter is further reduced in the presence of air and water. Another fact to be considered is the carbon /nitrogen ration of the added vegetation or manure. If the nitrogen content is too low, the rate of decomposition is retarded: the converse occurs if there is adequate nitrogen available. Pen manure or vegetation added to the soil is broken down by soil micro-organisms. Students of biology would have encountered in their studies the carbon and nitrogen cycles. Carbon dioxide and nitrogen are the ultimate products of the decomposition of manure and vegetation when added to soils as is the case when fertilizers are used.

I have stated in the past that, the majority of Barbadians are scientific illiterate and the article referred to, supports what I have been saying for years.

Sincerely

Robert D.Lucas, Ph.D.

Food biotechnologist.

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Barbados yogurt production ends – exposing more hollow government rhetoric

“Whenever practical, buy local.”

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

When we moved to Barbados almost 25 years ago and  purchased what was a semi-derelict Arawak Inn and beginning our journey in hotel operation, as non-nationals, not surprisingly, only a handful of suppliers would extend us credit. We have remained fiercely loyal and faithful to that small group.

So when PineHill made its entirely unilateral decision to stop producing yogurts it went entirely in the face of a policy we implemented when Peach and Quiet opened: “Whenever practical, buy local.”

“It is almost incomprehensible that this decision by PineHill was made at a time when our struggling dairy industry is trying to survive in the wake of a massive unsold milk glut.”

One or two people have indicated that PineHill did in fact issue a public notice in the media to the effect that they would no longer be manufacturing yogurts. But wouldn’t you, as a matter of course, write to customers that have traded with you for two decades?

After all, we have never been to busy to write and sign, literally hundreds of cheques to them over that period. It almost reeks of arrogance and indifference on their part.

So what do the 160 or so registered hotels, hundreds of villas, apartments and condominiums do now?

In our own case we have been forced to purchase imported yogurts from a distributor, who bring in the French brand, Yoplait. While the individual containers do not show a country of origin, the packaging does and indicates that they are made at their US subsidiary in Minneapolis. So at a critical time, when we are trying to retain every cent of foreign earnings, here we are importing an item that has a long history of local production, that is being trucked and shipped by refrigerated transport over a distance of at least 6,000 miles.

Just think about the carbon footprint for a minute.

Surely the company has to publicly explain why they have chosen this time to cease production and why it is no longer viable? With over 500,000 long stay visitors annually plus sales to locals, cruise ship companies and inflight caterers, what is the problem?

Another point that should be raised, are the recognised health benefits associated with yogurts and would it not be in the national interest to encourage more consumption. Foreign alternatives almost certainly will be more expensive and in these challenging times that alone will stifle demand.

I was also surprised that yogurt attracted 17.5 per cent VAT, as it surely could not be considered a luxury food item, but more a weapon against obesity and digestive disorders. Back on 13th January 2011 under a large attention grabbing Nation News banner headline ‘Bigger Basket’, the then Minister of Trade stated that more VAT exempt items would be added to the ‘basket’. Once again, this appears to be only just more rhetoric.

I really hope that PineHill will re-consider their decision or alternatively take steps to relinquish their near monopoly of milk processing, by giving another manufacturer a chance in Barbados.

The Line in the Sand…

With rights there are responsibilities and while yogurt may seem to some as an insignificant part of the bigger picture, but to me, it’s the line in the sand.

After yogurt, what comes next?

Will PineHill then transfer milk production to Trinidad, because due to energy costs, its cheaper to boil the liquid there?

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Bajans pick cotton, cut sugar cane twenty years from now? Let’s get real!

Does Barbados really have a cotton industry?

Cotton industry ‘revamp’ same talk we’ve heard for 40 years

submitted by Bleeding Hands

Barbados takes pride in our educated population and in our status as an ‘almost’ developed nation. The recent economic setbacks might have pushed us back a step or two, but this is a worldwide phenomena not exclusive to our country. Bajans should be proud of what we have achieved together in the last four decades.

One of the social changes brought about by our development and increased education, however, is that few if any of our young people aspire to jobs or business ownership in agriculture and especially not in agricultural sectors reminiscent of the plantation era of our history. If one could grow tomatoes or other food crops and make a decent living that is one thing: sugar and cotton are another world entirely in the minds of bajans and for good reason. Aside from the unprofitable nature of the those two crops, sugar and cotton have historical baggage that young bajans want nothing to do with and I cannot blame them.

Despite the unemployment on this island, Barbados has to import labour from other countires to work our sugar and cotton industries. That is because our population rejects the work, and they reject it because they have been conditioned to reject it – and also it pays nothing or next to nothing. Continue reading

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Future Centre Trust needs hands Saturday morning!

The Garden is going well!

The Future Centre Trust’s last Saturday in the garden was so successful I just wanted to let you all know how well the garden is going and invite you to our next garden day this Saturday the 28th of July. Julia, Paula and Lorraine have done such a great job so far. They have developed the banana circle, developed a list of plants and trees on site, worked with a landscape architect to create drawings for the garden, developed a veggie plant list for us to procure and helped the FCT find buyers for our produce.

This weekend we will be further developing the beds and mulching as well as planting our new veggie seedlings. As part of our research into organic and Permaculture methods we will be conducting a study on what works to keep away the snails. Lorraine will be using copper wire to  keep the snails away, this will be our experimental group, while we have a regular controlled bed to see if the copper wire solution works. additionally, we will be employing some other methods to keep the snails away, if you have any ideas please share them with us.
Please join us in the garden this Saturday the 28th of July from 7:30am to 11am. Please bring your hats, water and garden tools with you if you have them.
Looking forward to seeing you all in the garden.
Your supportive and ever uplifting friend.
Lani Edghill
Green Business Barbados Coordinator
The Future Centre Trust

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Spilt milk: Sophia Nicole Kellman looks at the Barbados dairy industry

by Sophia Nicole Kellman

Dairying in Barbados is under tremendous pressure. Government reduced its role in the industry during the 1990’s structural adjustment programme. A quota system took effect. Milk production fell nearly 50 per cent between 1992 and 1993. By the end of 2010, 16 commercial dairy farmers remained in the industry – less than half of the 37 registered farmers in 1990. National milk output stood below 7 million kilograms – one- half of the 14 million kilograms recorded in 1991.

Farm consolidation is common worldwide. The precipitous drop in milk output that occurred in 1992 Barbados is not. Dairy products constitute a significant part of the local diet and income. Milk remains one of the few agricultural products in which the island claims self-sufficiency. Hiccoughs in this industry trickle down to the larger society making it imperative that difficulties in the industry be identified and addressed.

The changing international trade regime, farm management practices, domestic policy and weather patterns all potentially affect economic outcomes. We examine whether moves toward trade liberalisation increased milk-based imports. Our findings show it unlikely for milk-based imports to have been responsible for the 1992 milk production drop. Today, however, the evidence suggests that trade liberalisation is exerting pressure on the local industry. Fresh milk and cream imports rise more than 3 percent after 2000. Imports of milk products that compete with locally produced ones also exhibit signs of increase.

Questionnaire-based responses identify structural characteristics of the industry. Survey data indicate high farm-level costs of production – some hovering around US$1 per kg – high prevailing price levels, reproductive and management issues, a paucity of industry support services and industry-specific research, and the absence of independent quality control and quota administration. Evidence of industry distress includes declining farm numbers, low production, and high costs.

In short, we examine factors that affect the economics of producing milk in Barbados. We find that the viability of dairying in Barbados depends on successfully dealing with domestic policy and herd management issues, given the shifting trade environment.

… Abstract from Sophia Nicole’s Kelman’s University of British Columbia Master’s Thesis – Spilt Milk: Trade liberalisation and the Barbados Dairy industry.

BFP readers can download Ms. Kellman’s 138 page thesis (in PDF format) at the UBC Library here. Well worth your time.

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Our disappearing agricultural lands – Public meeting Sunday

“We have 166sq miles to make this country home, to feed ourselves, to dispose of our waste, to provide jobs, to welcome the 1.1 million visitors per year, to make a sustainable use of the resources we are blessed with and to enhance our general well being. Land use policies must be fervently considered to ensure a sustainable future for all those living now, and those to come, if Barbados is to continue to prosper in a holistic manner. What we do to our lands, we do to ourselves.”

by the Future Centre Trust – courtesy of Kammie Holder

All are welcome to the public meeting to be held on recently transferred agricultural land in Lower Greys Tenantry, St George at 4pm on Sunday June 24.

Agriculture has come under the spotlight in recent weeks with the Minister of Agriculture himself standing up for his portfolio threatening resignation if Agriculture was not taken more seriously. With a greater dependence on internationally sourced food supplies, the country is putting itself at threat. “Pricing, supply, freshness of supply and access are all outside our control when imported food is on the shopping list!” says Nicole Garofano, Administrative Director of the Future Centre Trust. “Like a dependence on imported oil for the supply of the country’s electricity, dependence on external food crops simply because we are not recognising the value of our lands and improving those lands to feed ourselves, is detrimental to development in the long term,” she added.

During World War II, the late Sir John Saint spearheaded a national initiative which ensured that the agricultural lands of the time were able to supply food to the population. The region’s supplies were under threat with U boat activity across the Atlantic. Sir John recognised the threat and implemented this national initiative which enabled the people of Barbados to sustain themselves during that time. A brave move for the time, but it worked. Can Barbados learn from such innovative plans of old and work towards attaining some measure of food sustainability again? Continue reading

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Poultry Cartel holds Barbados hostage to high prices, inferior quality

“The Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA) has never denied what I have written.”

by Dr.Robert D. Lucas

Last week and yesterday, on the program “Down To Brass-tacks” hosted by Mr. Tony Marshall, a couple of callers made some comments on the local poultry industry. Last week’s caller extolled the quality of local turkey, stating that it was superior to the imported product and ended up imploring listeners to buy “Bajan”. Yesterday’s caller, who was based in America, wondered why poultry in general was so expensive in Barbados.

I have some comments to make, primarily on the quality of the local product. However, before I do so, it is useful to re-cap some of the reasons why local poultry is so expensive.

About ninety-nine percent of the inputs for the industry have to be imported. These inputs include eggs for hatching; corn and soy as ingredients for rations; medicines needed for the welfare of the birds; processing equipment; packaging materials and chicken wire for the pens. All of these require the use of foreign exchange and the only appreciable local inputs are labor, some water and cement for the floors of the pens. There is, therefore little savings in terms of foreign currency outflow.

Additionally, there is the fact that the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA), like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is a cartel.

BEPPA controls the feed plant, the importation of eggs, and the majority of slaughter- houses and so on. The situation is not alleviated by the fact that, Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) is also associated with the production of local poultry. The track record of litigation against ADM is well known in the USA, the European Union and Brazil and elsewhere. Continue reading

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World Food Day is No Food Day for a billion hungry people

Agriculture Rule #1: Cultivation of Marijuana pays well. Growing food does not…

by Peter Webster

October 16, 2011 designated as “World Food day” has come and gone – or has it?

For too many of the billion hungry people the world over, most days are “no food day”. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) promoted the theme “Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability” to highlight a worldwide trend that is “hurting the poor consumer, the small producer and agriculture in general” because “food prices which were stable for decades have become increasingly volatile”. They concluded that “controlling prices was key to the fight against hunger”.

FAO further lamented that “Agriculture cannot respond fast enough with increased food production because of long-term under-investment in research, technology, equipment and infrastructure”.

The statement by the FAO Director General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, leaves several unanswered questions:

Why did FAO emphasize the volatility or fluctuation of food prices and not the fact that the prices were higher although fluctuating? How do higher prices hurt producers and agriculture in general? Why does FAO concern itself with the hungry? Since when are the interests of food producers the same as those of consumers? Could the high price of energy be a contributing factor to high food prices? Why is there under-investment in agriculture?

It is unfortunate that the FAO statement does not distinguish between the food producers and distributors.

Promoting more investment in agriculture is like “pushing rope” since it deals with an effect and not the cause!

Food producers around the world have repeatedly increased their production when they are adequately rewarded for their investment. Our experience in Barbados supports this.

When our government in 1971 taxed all of the nasty profits out of our highly efficient sugar industry (over $50 million between 1974 and 1981) the result was dwindling capital investment in the industry with productivity falling by 50% from a high of over ten tonnes of sugar per hectare to the five tonnes per hectare currently being achieved.

Our people supposedly abhor agriculture but several are reputed to be cultivating marijuana in discreet nooks and crannies around the island despite the risk of imprisonment.

Why are they not growing sweet potatoes and yams? Could it be that cultivation of the latter is not lucrative enough?

We need to stop expecting the food producers to feed the poor and hungry – this is society’s responsibility not the food producers who are trying to earn a living! Continue reading

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You can’t make a meal out of Barbados sugar. What fools we are.

Our old friend Colin Beadon posted the following lament about our agricultural failures in our Open Discussion section early Saturday morning. Colin’s post came just as we were reading comments from the US Ambassador to Barbados that our government’s support of sugar “defies logic.”

Here’s the thing, folks… We can’t profitably grow sugar cane for any purpose, whether for foreign or domestic sale, for food products or fuel. We used to do it, but the world changed and we can’t do it now. We’ve shown we can no longer do it.

But we can take that land and commit to growing foods that we can eat and market profitably. Food and water are in some ways, the new oil. (Photo by Shona)

Here’s what Colin had to say…

What utter Fools we are.

On the BBC 26th August.

” If you want to do well in coming times, become a farmer. For the best Expectations, go Far East.”

The number one growing problem in the world, is fast becoming one of Food. There seems to be a little staggering towards this realization in Barbados, at last, that something must be done with agriculture in a big way. There are those of us who have been constantly screaming about it, but our voices are now hoarse, and age has taken away our insistence.

But ”One day, one day, Congotay. That’s what the old people say.” Will the true revival of Barbadian agriculture come too late? Will we really ever start eating our own grown and raised food again, where we have control of what pesticides and what forms of fertilizers we use ?

There are so many great farmers, all over the world, suffering war, and drought, and all forms of persecution, and here we have land, going to useless waste, with good rainfall, and mostly mild conditions, and we have to import 90% of our food requirements. What utter fools, fools, fools we are.

Colin Beadon

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