The soaring temperatures could lead to decreased production and increased prices for local agricultural produce.
This concern was raised by chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, who explained that this country’s livestock farming sector faces the biggest threat.
He told the DAILY NATION that while these fears had not yet been manifested, should high temperatures continue, lower yields could be expected in sectors such as poultry and dairy production.
“This is something that we are bracing for, and I want to say that this is something that is worldwide. I don’t want it to be a case of persons standing by to try justifying the importation of products. These high temperatures are being experienced all over the world and it will have an impact on the sectors. We are hoping that we will see a reduction in the temperature soon. We have the same concern for the dairy producers because, clearly, the cows must be under severe stress. Animals generally are impacted by the heat,” Paul said.
In its latest outlook, the Barbados Meteorological Service (BMS) forecast continues to indicate a higher probability for above-normal minimum, maximum and mean temperatures until the early part of 2024.
The BMS also stated that the heat season was still projected to end around November/December with peak temperatures predicted to range between 27 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius around that time.
Paul said: “Farmers will be well advised to take precautions at this time because yesterday [Sunday] temperatures were 32.2 degrees. The days are extremely hot and uncomfortable
and especially for poultry farmers, you have to make sure that those fans are on and the pens are well ventilated. These are stressful conditions that can affect the rate of growth, feed conversion and lower productivity in general which would mean a longer time before birds get to market.”
The BAS head cautioned that water consumption would increase and so too would other inputs that were necessary for livestock to survive the elevated temperatures. He noted that farmers would face a scenario where their production cost were going to go up while their productivity remained the same or in some cases fell. He explained that this could have an impact on prices to the consumer.