Written by 10:23 am Food

Agriculture minister trying to long-term fixes for industry

As public officials work on a technique to help struggling farmers with a possible feed increase, Government signals it isn’t in favour of providing any further subsidies.

Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir made this revelation on Friday on the ministry’s headquarters, Graeme Hall, Christ Church following a ceremony to commemorate World Food Day, which is recognised internationally on October 16.

Weir told Barbados TODAY that a subsidy was a brief quick fix and never a long-term solution.

“I’m not so sold on the standard route of dropping in price support. It lasts for a time period and then you definately are back with the identical problem. I would like to create overall improvement and once the farmers are more efficient and the price of operations is down then they might give you the option to face up to any external shocks,” he said.

Last 12 months Government put aside $4 million in price support for poultry and livestock farmers when Pinnacle Feeds indicated that as a consequence of the skyrocketing costs of inputs, it was going to extend its prices by 19 and 26 per cent.

Back then, Government also negotiated with the manufacturer to drop the  margin to 11 per cent.

Weir said there have been other ways Government could assist farmers.

“At the top of the day, lots of these small farmers are struggling due to high costs of operations and it doesn’t all the time must be a subsidy. We are able to provide other support by improvement of their facilities, improvement when it comes to genetics, technical support (and) introducing modern systems.”

Last week Pinnacle Feeds wrote the Barbados Agricultural Society informing the organisation of its plan to extend its prices by as much as 21 per cent due to continued rising costs of grain.

Nevertheless, after a gathering with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Energy and Business Development, Pinnacle agreed it could hold on its prices for per week and supply the Ministry of Agriculture with financial details to permit officials to conduct an assessment and evaluation of how the corporate was being impacted by increasing input costs and its inability to boost prices.

Meanwhile, Weir said it was inconceivable for Barbados to regulate supply chain issues occurring within the international sphere and it was time to search for feed inputs from non-traditional sources.

“My view on all of that is that we now must look to new source markets. I don’t think that we are able to control what is going on globally.

“We are able to foster partnerships with people who find themselves closer to us like Roraima (Brazil) to give you the option to get well prices of grain.

“That’s what I’m working on and I’m duty-bound to guard the small farmers. So all of those small farmers who’re involved in pig farming and poultry farming I’m also options that we are able to explore to offer support for them,” he said.

On Monday, stakeholders within the farming community told Barbados TODAY that one other price increase could run them out of business.

Meanwhile, Weir said Pinnacle has been keeping true to its word on its deliverables.

“We requested information so we are able to do an in-depth evaluation of what is going on when it comes to the landed cost of grains, cost of production (and so forth) . . .It took somewhat time for us to get all the knowledge we would have liked. I feel as much as yesterday (Thursday) morning we were still receiving information.

“Yesterday was Cabinet and we clearly couldn’t make a call without the knowledge. This (Friday) afternoon after we meet we’ll then finalise our evaluation after which present something to Cabinet,” he said. [email protected]

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