Boost for cassava on Barbados

18-09-2008 | |

By the end of the year, Barbados intends to transform its agricultural landscape partly into cassava fields.

Rising cost of oil and the subsequent hikes in the price of animal feed,
efforts are made to find a home grown solution in the form of cassava, to be
used as a substitute for corn, which is also fluctuating in price.

Chief
Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, told the
media that an area of 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) of land would be needed to
accomplish this long-term goal.

However, he noted that by the end of the
year, some projects will be off the ground. “In the initial instance we are
looking to target 20 percent of the current amount of corn that we bring into
the country, into cassava.”

“We have to have some ingredient that we
control here, that we can use. So that we can control at least one aspect of the
process. It goes back down to the whole question of food security, “Paul
said.

Paul revealed that there has been an increase in demand in root
crops in Barbados and anticipates that the trend will continue. He noted that a
promotion programme will be needed to sensitise persons about the benefits of
cassava production.

Paul cautioned that this is not a straight-forward
process since the production of cassava for the purpose of animal feed will not
bring in top dollar for farmers.

“We have to bring it to a price that
makes it worthwhile for them and yet makes it worthwhile in order for them to go
into the production of animal feed. That is the challenge and that is what we
have to work out. If the price of corn keeps on increasing as it is right now,
we still have a problem.”

He further explained that a mechanisation
process for the planting and harvesting of cassava will be needed in order to
keep prices down.

Cassava crops are harvested after eight months. At
present approximately 1,000 acres (400 ha) are being used to produce cassava in
Barbados.

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