One of the island’s largest chicken producers has predicted that the importation of two 40-foot containers of wings to meet expected demand during the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup will devastate the poultry industry.

Although the sector is set to produce record levels of meat in a strong rebound from the COVID-19 slump, Executive Director of Fasons Food Inc. (Amir Chicken) Amir Juman declared the imported wings would disrupt the progress of chicken farmers and lead to major unemployment.

Last week, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir told Barbados TODAY that the 2023 ban on chicken wings was lifted and the sole importer of the product – the state-owned Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) – would import two 40-foot containers of chicken wings for the World Cup in June.

Top industry officials have predicted a record year for the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers (BEPPA) at 11 million birds, surpassing 2019’s 10.7 million. Barry Gale, managing director at Gale’s Agro Products, the island’s largest hatchery, had said: “This year, the statistics for the first four months of the year suggest that we are about ten per cent above last year’s production. By the end of April, 3.3 million chicks would have been ordered. If production continues the way it is going we should expect this year to beat the 2019’s record.”

But, Juman, the island’s largest grower of Halal poultry, painted a dismal picture in light of the imported wings.

“It will have a significant impact on the sector and I think it is extremely unplanned and reckless, especially when consultation was not made with BEPPA, which represents the poultry industry in Barbados,” he said.

Juman, also a BEPPA board member, said the industry’s projection made it unnecessary to import wings, suggesting that domestic farmers alone could meet the increased demand from the World Cup.

“There is a lot of hope within the small farmer division,” he said. “This importation is not good when it is quite well known that there is an increase in production. The importation was not necessary. There was no need to import.

“For Barbados, the poultry industry is one of the last remaining consistent industries within the agriculture sector and I find that it was not being properly protected in the past few years due to all of these wings coming in. Government should consider giving import licences for non-competing products that are not manufactured locally. In this way, it would not damage the industry. We have done without wings for a long time; bringing in wings is hurting Barbados more than it is developing it.”

Juman said there were already local wings already on the market – more than 10 000 – and his company and other farmers had wings in stock.

The 2024 record projection marks a significant turn of events for the poultry industry that was plagued by several issues late last year. Many small farmers complained of a high mortality rate due to above-average high temperatures, which led to an egg shortage and the government importing several containers of eggs.

Gale’s Agro Products also had an egg fertility issue, which led to delays in fulfilling orders for chicks, thus affecting production levels.

Juman argued that the imported wings would flood the market and the cheap competition would be too much for local producers to contend with.

“Larger players, which are a few, will have to end up dropping prices, and dropping prices will damage the small man,” he said. “When that happens, the large players get a bad name but they are only dropping prices because they are building up stock because the government brought in wings. When you have saturation, what happens? You run out of storage because the imports flood the market rapidly and are highly competitive.

“The wings are definitely going to impact the record we were trying to achieve and producers will have to reduce production. It is going to end up creating a whiplash because it will create unemployment, [and] people will end up trimming their organisations. People may only see it as two 40-foot containers of wings but that is equivalent to hundreds of small farmers that have to reduce their production; those who depend on that money to feed their children, buy school necessities and support their families.”

The post Juman: Local producers could produce enough wings for World Cup appeared first on Barbados Today.

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