Retailers located in the United States and Israel are swelling with fascination over Barbados’ growing cassava industry. Paul Waite, the divisional head of Agricultural Services at the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC), says that using locally-produced cassava products, including for flour, bread, cake and porridge mixes, and sorbet has been receiving excellent ratings.
While the corporation was pleased with the high level of interest being shown, Waite earnestly noted that local producers must be able to meet commercial demand. In this effect, he also revealed that the BADMC needed financial assistance in order to assemble a cassava processing mill to better meet this demand. One was recently purchased from Columbia and it is said that the mill is able to produce an average of 3,000 pounds of flour from 10,000 pounds of cassava per day.
“We need to be able to pack a 40-foot container at least once every week to ship. [The retailers] have indicated that their retail lines in the UK, in the Middle East, as well as in the US are very interested in the product, but we have been constrained because [of the lack of] access to financing to be able to complete the mill,” he said.
In addition to already fulfilled plans for cassava production, Waite is also hoping that a public/ private sector partnership will come along to kick start the process. He pointed out that getting the mill operational would be beneficial to helping create an export market, and help pricing and health as it relates to the domestic level. One example Waite highlights is that people would then have access to gluten-free foods at a lower price.
Other steps revealed by the BADMC to boost the cassava industry were also revealed. One of them was to purchase a cassava planter and harvester from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s facility to help with the cultivation of the crop.