|Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick (FP)|
Government is still moving ahead with its alternative feed programme and is now in the process of sourcing funding for the requisite equipment.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, who said agricultural officials had already found the necessary automated factory equipment in China which would harvest cassava and also produce pellets to be used as feed for ruminants and poultry as well as for flour production.
Speaking during a press briefing last Thursday at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Graeme Hall, Christ Church, he said government, through the Ministry of Foreign Trade, was now actively sourcing 2.5 million dollars for the equipment by way of the Chinese Grant Funding Programme.
"We are pretty confident that once we can get those funds in place, we can bring those pieces of equipment here to Barbados. We have enough land, through the Barbados Agricultural Management Company Ltd. and the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) to be able to grow cassava and we are looking at around 3, 000 acres of cassava in Barbados, which would create a cassava industry.
"We want to take it from the farm to the finished product and that will provide jobs and militate against the inflation prices associated with importing feed for poultry and for animals. The impact of that nationally is the skyrocketing chicken prices as well as beef, lamb and so on," Dr. Estwick pointed out.
Many local farmers have complained about the rising costs of farm inputs such as feed and Dr. Estwick stressed that his Ministry was working feverishly to have the cassava project up and running which he indicated would greatly assist the farming community while boosting local agricultural production.
In addition, the Agriculture Minister said there was a significant and growing market for cassava products in Barbados, with the BADMC presently unable to meet the local demand for cassava flour.
"We have had meetings… with several of the bakeries in Barbados and we are in the process now through the new Food Promotion Unit at the Grantley Adams Industrial Estate to make sure we can distill the percentage of cassava flour that could be added to normal wheat flour, so you can maintain the quality characteristics of the breads we like," Dr. Estwick said.