The Barbados Blackbelly sheep is a national treasure.
This view was endorsed by Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, Denis Kellman, who asserted that "the value of this breed of sheep goes beyond its provision of meat… There is value in its skin".
The Minister made these points today, during the launch of a project entitled Blackbelly Sheep – A National Treasure: Building Bigger Value at Pelican Village Terrace, where the logo of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep was also unveiled. The project is a collaborative effort of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Canadian High Commission.
He lauded the organisations for establishing the initiative which is designed to heighten the awareness of the value of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep and its role in the growth and development of Barbados’ economy.
"…The Ministry of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development has been drawn [to Blackbelly sheep] since its [the Ministry’s] establishment in 2011… The Ministry has been quietly gathering the relevant information, and in so doing, has been able to meet with some of the other players who were interested in exploiting the Blackbelly sheep and the added value that could be brought to the table by this exploitation," the Minister disclosed.
Minister Kellman pointed out that the animal’s skin, when transformed to leather, could be applied to the production of bags, coats, gloves, jewelry, spa products and shoes.
??With respect to the manufacture of shoes, the Minister stated that research in this area was high on his Ministry’s agenda due to the health benefits to which it was attached. He noted that initial investigations have shown that the leather produced from the skin of Barbados’ Blackbelly sheep was "softer and more elastic than that produced by other animals".
"Such an initiative has a health benefit to Barbadians who are having to grapple with the complications of diabetes, particularly those resulting in diabetic foot.???? The manufacturing of custom made shoes for those persons who have foot problems, could potentially reduce the number of amputations that are performed each year, seeing that poor blood circulation was a significant contributing factor. Leather produced from the skin of the Blackbelly sheep is highly recommended as the leather of choice for the manufacture of these shoes," Mr. Kellman explained.??
The Minister also alluded to the export potential which lies in the production of items through utilising various parts of the Barbados Blackbelly sheep. He noted that these products were likely to generate foreign exchange and would be one solution in the search to find export niches.