Barbados looks likely to produce record numbers of poultry in 2015, according to James Paul, the CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS). He asserted to the association’s Annual General Assembly recently that the industry is on the rebound. For the first time, a million broiler chicks were placed in a single month and output has been rising throughout the last year, he said, according to a report from the Barbados Advocate.

Despite the strong performance, the industry remains concerned about imports – not only as a threat of cheaper competition but also because of the employment opportunities that the sector can offer to young Barbadians. The Sandals hotels group recently committed to purchasing local produce, and Paul called on others in the tourism sector to follow their example.

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Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Statistics Division, FAOSTAT indicate that Barbadian chicken meat production in 2013 – the most recent year for which statistics are available - was unchanged from the previous year at 15,354 metric tons. The most recent trade data – for 2012 – show the country does not participate in significant trade in chicken meat, importing just 39 metric tons and exporting 49 metric tons. For comparison, in 2000, 2,900 metric tons of chicken were imported into Barbados but the volumes have since followed a declining trend.

“I am therefore saying if they can do it, why can’t all of our existing local hoteliers demonstrate a concerted effort to work with the sector to increase their purchases of locally produced agricultural products? If there was ever a time that this is needed it is now because the economic challenges that we face demand it,” Paul said. “It would afford us the opportunity to maximise our tourism earnings by encouraging more expenditure on locally produced items.”