The major thrust in the agricultural sector in Barbados is to reduce the food import bill. Among the issues that hinder the achievement of this goal are, high energy costs, insufficient sector investment, and insufficient human resources involved in production. This all results in a marked reduction in the contribution of agriculture to GDP and an overall low level of food security.
In the area of fisheries, Barbados’ fishing industry, says the FAO, comprises nine main fisheries:
- shallow shelf reef fishes
- deep slope fishes
- coastal pelagic
- large pelagic
- flying fish
- sea urchins
- turtles (now closed)
- conch (seasonal fishing permitted)
The FAO goes on to say that in 2002 flying fish (Hirundichthys affinis) was the most important species for fisheries in Barbados comprising approximately 64% of the total annual landings. The second most important species was dolphin (Coryphaena hippurus) which comprised 22% of the total annual landings.
Barbados is also known for a number of superior quality agro-based products such as:
- Sugar and rum
- West Indian Sea Island Cotton
- Barbados Blackbelly Sheep
- Barbados cherry
A country report commissioned on behalf of CARICOM indicates that the sugar and rum segments have been receiving attention through restructuring to enhance efficiencies while attempts at the revival of the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep industry, a much-sought after meat and a prominent hair sheep, continue.
Still, on a per capita basis, Barbados imports the most food amongst the countries studied to feed its local and visitor population. Total annual imports of food products averaged USD $315 million between 2010 and 2015 with imports of:
- beverages and spirits at USD $43 million
- edible preparations at USD $31 million
- dairy products, eggs, honey and edible animal preparations averaged at USD $29 million
- cereal, flour, starch, milk preparations’ averaged at USD $27 million
In the case of fruits, Barbados imports 93% of its requirements.
According to Chapter 3 of Barbados’ Medium Term Development Strategy 2010-2014: “The Agricultural sector has undergone and will continue to undergo significant changes in order to combat the challenges inherent in the domestic and external environment.
On the domestic front, agriculture continues to compete with other sectors for scarce resources such as land, labour and capital.”
This clearly indicates that the agricultural sector will continue to face severe challenges and suggests the continuing need for policy measures aimed at stimulating sector growth. The Country Report commissioned on behalf of CARICOM also noted that in 2013, Barbados developed a Strategic Plan for the transformation of the agricultural sector based on the theme “Food Security” as the current level of food imports was deemed unacceptable by the Minister of Agriculture.
Barbados’ land area is 431 square kilometres (sq. km) with 140 sq. km. available for production. And of this amount, 12,000 hectares are classified as arable. Permanent crops occupy 2.33% of this area and other crops and livestock on 69.77% (2011) with about 5,400 ha or 12% irrigated (2013).
Increasing competitiveness of sugarcane
The sugarcane industry, once a major occupier of arable lands, has been restructured to improve international competitiveness by emphasizing the provision of biomass for the cogeneration of electricity in order to augment the energy supply to the national grid, as well as strengthening linkages with the Tourism/Services sectors.
Cotton, once a vibrant export commodity is now only occupying a small acreage despite the potential to produce high quality cotton.
Overall, the agriculture sector continues to be affected by:
- adverse weather conditions
- labour shortages and relatively low labour productivity
- decreased acreage under cultivation
- declining yields
- high cost of inputs and services
Looking to the future with strategic plan
In the National Strategic Plan of Barbados (2005-2025), a series of strategies to enhance the Competitiveness of the Agriculture Sector so that it can compete in both the domestic and international markets and increase output are outlined.
One of the strategies is to restructure and modernise the entire agricultural sector to enhance productivity and product quality, reduce cost and post-harvest losses and create value-added to increase local consumption and export potential. This will be achieved through:
- The development and revitalisation of the sugar industry, by radically transforming the profile of the local industry from sugar based to sugar cane based production, with emphasis on utilising modern, efficient technology to produce various by-products for export such as, fuel, molasses, branded sugar and specialty sugar, and capitalising on available intellectual property.
- The development and promotion of the regional integrated cotton industry based on the production and sale of value-added West Indian Sea Island Cotton products to export markets.
- The development of the food crop sub-sector using measures to increase yields and create value-added through food processing and marketing to facilitate export; in addition to the development of measures to become self-sufficient in the production of tropical vegetables.
- The development of the livestock sector to increase and satisfy local market demand by instituting measures to ensure: the production and supply of quality, inexpensive feed; a fair price to farmers for their products; the development of value-added products and the quality of local meats.
- The implementation of a programme for sustainable fisheries development.
- The integration of new technologies to expand floriculture for export in Barbados
- The institution of a regulatory system to source the necessary skilled labour and the encouragement of the establishment of service providers for agricultural related labour activities
- The implementation of a mechanization strategy with a view to reducing per unit costs and increasing on-farm productivity
- The promotion of manageable forms of multi-farm usage of machinery (such as the establishment of machinery rings to improve the economics of machinery usage)
- The promotion of modern technologies including hydroponics, green houses, and the utilization of new product varieties
Agricultural Tourism – A 2014 report by students from McGill University found that this sector was ripe for investment and could be an active strategy to remedy issues related to the degradation of natural attractions such as beaches.
In addition to environmental impact, the report says there is an increased global concern regarding food scarcity, food consumption and health, and localized food production. Barbados’ agricultural sector is not only rich in history and culture, but could also be incorporated into the tourism industry through local farm visits and culinary tourism based on the apparent desire of tourists to experience local cuisine.
Supporting investment – To support venture capital for new enterprises, the Ministry of Agriculture offers a number of agriculture rebates and duty-free concessions on:
- Live Animals
- Planting Material
- Machinery & Equipment (including Irrigation)
- Agricultural Chemicals
- Veterinary Medicaments
- Hand Tools
- Organic Farming
- Computer Programs
- Product Development & Waste Treatment Systems
Investment and development of Barbados’ agriculture sector is supported by Technical Assistance Funds, Working Capital Funds and Retooling incentives distributed through the Barbados Agriculture Development Fund’s Enterprise Growth Fund.
Grants are offered for the following:
- Spraying & Weed Control Equipment
- Pasture, Cotton & Orchard Development
- Assistance & Support to Farmers’ Organizations
- Agricultural & Agro Processing Machinery
- Land Cultivation & Livestock Development
- Re-tooling (Fishing, Poultry & Livestock Industries)
- Farm Security, Management and Agro-business
- Resource Protection & Management
- Post-Harvest & Crop Technology (Greenhouses, Irrigation & Hydroponics)
- Organic Farming
- Crop Technology Disaster Relief Revolving Fund
Barbados’ domestic production of vegetables accounts for approximately 50% of aggregate supply with cucumber, tomato, okra, carrot, squash, sweet pepper and Cabbage being the main commodities produced.
More than 60% of the vegetables produced occur during the fallow rotation by the sugar plantations and 40 % produced by approximately 2,000 small farmers.
The recent introduction of “greenhouses” has added significant volumes of tomato, sweet peppers, specialty lettuce and herbs.
Barbados is also home to some dynamic agro-based industries such as the poultry industry whose output in 2013 was 15,400 metric tons of meat. Other industries include diary processing, fruit juices, and spices and condiments.
|No.||Name (Acronym):||Type of Business / Role(s)||Contact Person/ Designation / Postal Address||Contact Information|
|1.||St George Farmers Marketing Cooperative Society Ltd||AS-F / TM||The Glebe, St George||Tel: 246 436 8106|
|2.||Pine Hill Dairy||PRV / PS-M||Oine, St. Michael||Tel: 246 430 4100 Fax: 246 429 3514 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org|
|3.||Windmill Products||PRV / PS-M||Tudor St., Bridgeown, St. Michael||Tel: 246 427 3008 Email:email@example.com|
|4.||Carter’s General Store||PRV / PS-S||Wildey, St Michael||Tel: 246 431 1500 Web site: www.carters.bb|
|5.||Agrochemicals Ltd||PRV / PS-S||41 Warrens Industrial Park||Tel: 246 425 3939 Web site:www.agrochemicals.com|
|6.||ARC Irrigation Inc||PRV / PS-S||Constant, St. George||Tel: 246 435 2044 Fax: 246 435 2047 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|7.||Barbados Mills Limited||PO Box 260, Spring Garden Hwy., Bridgetown, , Barbados||246 427 8880, 246 427 8886 fax,|
|8.||Eastern Caribbean Fertiliser Co. Barbados. Ltd||PRV / PS-S||Upland Factory, St. John||Tel: 246 433 2740 Fax: 246 433 5739 Web site: www.ecffertiliser.com|
|9.||Roberts Manufacturing Company Limited||P.O. Box 1275, Lower Estate,||Tel: (246) 429-2131 (246) 429-2131 , Fax: (246) 426-5604 Email:email@example.com http://www.rmco.com/|
|10.||RIMCO||PRV / PS-S||Searles Factory, Christ Church||Tel: 246 430 3600 Fax: 246 436 9892|
|11.||South End Farmers||AS-F / PS-P||Gibbons Boggs, Christ Church||Tel: 246 420 6291 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org|
|12.||St Andrew Small Farmers’ Coop||AS-F / PS-P|
|13.||Pothouse Organic and Cultural Group||AS-F / PS-P||Welchman Hall, St. Thomas||Tel: 246 438 8076 Email:email@example.com|
|14.||Pinnacle Feeds||PRV / PS-S||P.O. Box 1275, Bridgetown, St. Michael||Tel: 246 429 2131 Fax: 246 427 3387 Email: roberts2rmco.com|
|15.||Seedburst Nurseries||PRV / PS-S||Lot 3, Gibbons Boggs, Christ Church||Tel: 246 428 1938|
- Barbados Country Report: Assessment of the Adequacy of Agricultural Market Infrastructure and the Development of Recommendations for Improvement with Specific Focus on the Needs of Women and Small Farmers
- Barbados Agricultural Statistical Information Service
- Agricultural Tourism in Barbados
- Case Study: Barbados, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
- National Strategic Plan of Barbados (2005-2025)
- CARDI Country Profile
- FAO Country Profile
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Invest Barbados
- Observatory of Economic Complexity