Author Archives: Andrew Stoute

About Andrew Stoute

Dr. Stoute obtained his PhD in Plant Biology from the University of Reading in 2009 working on photoperiodic control of flowering. He then took Post-Doctoral Researcher position at Rothamsted Research working on the developmental factors around parental regulation of seed size in oilseed rape (canola). He joined the staff of the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station in 2011 as the Plant Geneticist, responsible for performing crosses from extensive germplasm collection to provide clients with improved sugarcane varieties. He also develops systems and programs to aid in the selection of the best parental material for those crosses.

Barbadian Agriculture at the Crossroads

by Gerald Proverbs for the 16th Annual Technical Conference of the BSTA, 2000

Still a relevant analysis nearly 20 years later…

As we enter the 21st century, Barbadian agriculture is at a crossroads. The way it develops from here on will increasingly involve new directions. The analogy of a crossroads permits the various ideas/proposals suggested herein, and has been debated by many over the past three decades.

Barbadian Agriculture at the Crossroads.pdf

Various systems for the packaging of molasses for the distribution to livestock farmers in Barbados

by C. Keith Laurie for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA, 1989

Molasses is the cheapest energy feed available in Barbados. Another advantage is that it has no fibre thereby allowing its use with fibrous plants, high in protein, to make up a balanced ration. Because of its attractive flavour it can be used as a carrier of unpalatable feedstuffs such as urea, poultry litter and other non protein sources of nitrogen.

Various systems for the packaging of molasses for the distribution to livestock farmers in Barbados pdf

Flyash = Soot = Good News

By Colin Hudson for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA 1989

Like so many soil amendment questions, there is a shortage of hard facts about the value of flyash, but there is considerable circumstantial evidence for its benefits.

In the early 1960’s, when ash arrestors became common and flyash was available by the truckload, some enterprising farmers spread it on fields which were felt to be substandard. Invariably good responses were observed.

Flyash = Soot = Good News pdf

Sugarcane as a Renewable Energy Source

In the past Barbados had an efficient export oriented thriving sugar industry using
the soil, rainfall, well adapted varieties and available labour with well tested
agronomic practices in the plantation system, coupled with well-run sugar
factories. However in the recent past sugar production declined and attempts to
produce energy through co-generation in the existing factories using fuel cane
along with sugarcane failed due to many factors. These factors include increased
production costs, poor management and inadequate testing of fuel cane. Recent
plans by the government to diversify sugar industry with huge $400 million
project seems to be going nowhere.

The suitability of sugarcane as a source for renewable energy is being successfully
exploited in Guadeloupe and in Mauritius in the traditional sugar factories with
the use of supplement fuel in certain months. In Brazil, in addition to using cane
juice to produce fuel ethanol, projects are being undertaken to use total sugar
cane biomass to produce energy. During the last few years considerable progress
has been made in the technologies like gasification to use biomass for power
generation in Europe and North America.

There is a considerable area of idle land once used for cane production now in
bush. Bringing this land into cultivation to produce biomass to generate energy
can bring considerable agro-industry activity to the economic benefit of the
country. Barbados still retains most of infrastructure and knowledge of cane
production. Current interest in Barbados to exploit renewable energy sources like
solar and wind can be supplemented with use of sugarcane as an additional
energy source. Barbados is fortunate to have cane breeding and variety testing
stations to develop an array of very productive sugar cane varieties to the
local conditions with various combinations of characteristics. Unless some action
is taken very soon, the current small acreage under cane production will shrink
further and even the infrastructure and knowledge will disappear. Before this
happens, it is highly desirable to explore the use of gasification or related
technologies to produce renewable energy using currently available high biomass
yielding cane varieties supplemented with related biomass crops.

This kind of project need to be managed by private sector with some support from

What’s in a Variety

Every Barbadian has a preferred variety of something weather it is for Julie vs Imperial mangoes, a breadfruit from the right tree or the right kind of sweet potatoes.

What many people may not realise the the number of varieties that exist in all crops and the significance of differences between those varieties. In well established crops, specific varieties often have specific uses. For example,  potatoes come in three standard variety, Starchy – best for baking and frying, Waxy – best for casseroles and potato salads and All Purpose – your jack of all trades, master of none.

Each of those broad categories is then broken up into individual varieties.  Each of these specific varieties has individual characteristics which add value.  For the farmer it might be disease resistance and yield potential, for the supermarket – shelf life and for the consumer – flavour and appearance.  These characteristics, this distinctness, allows for some varieties to be valued much higher than others. In fact, there is a potato variety grown in France, call La Bonnette, which can be sold for up to $300 USD/lb.

In Barbados we have numerous varieties of sweet potato grown, these include Caroline Lea, Red Man and CBS49, the latter a truly local variety bred and developed in Barbados. While research has been done on their cooking and processing properties it is a drop in the bucket compared to the work that has been done on more well established crops.

A first step in establishing value for these varieties  would be to enable the consumers to easily identify their prefered varieties.  This would allow consumers to learn which varieties are best for the their purposes.

I believe, that if developed and marketed properly its possible that we could one day see a sweet potato variety that is also sold for $300 USD a pound.

Cane testing pilot project Andrews 1989

by David West for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA

After many months of discussions during 1988 the sugar industry decided in favour of cane payment by quality, to be introduced over a four year period, 1989 – 1992

In the first year, 1989, it was proposed to evaluate a First Expressed Juice (FEJ) method of cane testing. This is the method used in Australia, and although it is considerably less expensive than most acknowledged alternatives, it is of unrivaled accuracy.

It should be noted that, should this procedure not have the confidence and full support of the growers after the 1989 experience, the procedure may be conveniently changed to one of direct cane analysis with either pre or post hoist sampling.

It was also agreed that if the procedures tested were acceptable to growers, the scheme would be implemented at the remaining three factories for the 1990 crop and cane payment by quality would start in 1990 with a 33.3% influence and this would be increased to 66.7% in 1991 and a total payment by quality would be effected in 1992

To satisfy the first phase of implementation the Cane Testing Pilot Project (CTPP) was introduced at Andrews factory for the 1989 crop. Every effort was made to have the cane testing operation functional as early in the crop period as possible, given the constraints of equipment importation.

The equipment list includes two computers, analytical and sampling equipment, a washer and oven for fibre determination, and electronic load tracking components.

Cane testing pilot project Andrews 1989 pdf

Why Buy Local

The argument has been made that we should give up farming in Barbados, our cost of production is too high and we can get food cheaper elsewhere. Here I’m going to give you a few reasons why you should support Bajan farmers and buy local.

Food security – The global population is growing and the impact of climate change  will make farming increasingly challenging in many areas. Local farming provides a vital buffer against sudden changes in supply.  Additionally, maintaining an industry with a core of workers and equipment with the know-how and capabilities to expand the industry  is a vital hedge against the very likely possibility that global food scarcity will become a larger issue.

Health – Locally produced foods are generally whole-food, food which hasn’t been processed or only minimally processed. High consumption of processed food is being linking to a wide variety of medical conditions.  When eating local whole foods you are consuming the freshest, most health food you can.

Safety – With many of the food contamination stories in the news, knowing who your food producer is, and the standards they are required to meet, gives confidence about the quality of the food you are buying for your family.

In order for an industry to maintain viability it must also maintain a certain size.  It needs to be big enough for someone to be willing to import tractors and fertilizer, it needs to be big enough that it is worth someone’s time to learn how to repair tractors and other pieces of farm equipment. As the industry decreases in size, the shared overhead costs become more burdensome, decreasing the viability of the industry. Supporting the local agricultural sector through consumption and use of local produce is essential for its continued survival and flourishing.

Honouring Dr. Frances Louise Chandler OBE, CBE.

The President, Council and Membership of the Barbados Society of Technologist in Agriculture extends our profound condolences to the family and friends of the Dr. Frances Louise Chandler OBE, CBE.

Francis was a determined and powerful advocate for local agriculture, the BSTA was honoured by her continued support over many years. She is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed.

A few thoughts and reflections from the membership of the BSTA.

A limb has fallen from our professional tree.
For what it is worth?
An immeasurable, irreplaceable wealth of knowledge, strength, courage and tenacity to keep agriculture in the forefront of our national development.
I keep hearing a voice that says:
“Grieve not for me.
Remember all the standards and policies which I sought for so long.
All the work to this end, that I did when I was strong.
Continue my heritage, I’m counting on you.
Keep working with faith until the sun shines through.
Continue the traditions, no matter how small.
Get on with your objectives, don’t worry about falls”.
Frances was a source of inspiration and encouragement that I will sorely miss. My condolences to her family and friends.

Sandra Bellamy

Sad news, reflective of today.
I met Frances many years ago, in a field near the Home Plantation – she was conducting in-field research as a CARDI scientist. Her passion, enthusiasm and intellect were immediate, and had a lasting impression on me. She shared without reserve. At that time I was responsible for selling agricultural chemicals etc with Plantations Ltd.
Condolences to her family, friends and colleagues

Adrian R. Kirton

I was on my way to Agrofest when I got the email.

My immediate thoughts were a true “patriot” of the agricultural industry is gone.

I had many interactions with Dr. Chandler. She was a part-time tutor in our agriculture programme at BCC. After leaving us she handed me volumes of materials and textbooks. And I could always refer to her for advice.

There were also those times at ACTCO as well as at the then BADC.

She will be missed.

To her family, my sincere condolence and may she rest in eternal peace.

Marcia Marville

It is a very sad day to hear Francis is no more with us as I have been
travelling in India. I knew her as a special kind of scientist who can
combine her deep knowledge of Barbados agriculture through her
advanced training in research and learnings in the field to help the
farmers who are in a great need for such information. A true patriot
who is always ready to share her knowledge. BSTA lost a resourceful
and devoted member.

My sincere condolence to her family

Seshagiri Rao

Hearing this news really saddened me. If you know me, you would know that I adored Dr. Chandler. I met her in 2011 and even with knowing very little about me, she sought to propel me forward wherever she could, almost like my agricultural fairy God-mother. I will truly miss her guidance, biting wit and her tenacity. Her contribution to my personal and professional development will never be forgotten. She’s finally pain free. May she rest in peace.

Jacklyn Broomes

Agriculture has lost a champion. Hopefully Frances has inspired enough of us to ensure her fight is continued. Condolences to family & friends.

RIP Frances. Rest assured you did your part & more.

Richard Armstrong

I remember first meeting Francis at a meeting of the BSTA, I had the distinct impression of frankness, unvarnished honesty and a piercing, slightly discomforting, gaze that seemed to be quietly assessing me. It became clear over time how deeply passionate Francis was about agriculture her willingness to call a spade a spade and speak truth to power. Her wisdom and knowledge will be sorely missed in the agricultural sector and her absence will be felt more widely as a strong voice in sphere of public discourse goes silent. Rest in Peace Dr. Chandler you will be missed.

Andrew Stoute

Bagasse: Some insights into the cause of the deterioration on storage

M. F. Armstrong for the 7th annual conference of the BSTA 1989

The conditions under which the factories work today require a higher fibre % cane or rather fibre demand. The greatest constraint here being the rate of supply of cane. If a factory is crushing at a rate of 75% of its “Available Grinding Time” (A.G.T.) and during the remaining 25% of its “A.G.T.” it is stopped due to “low steam,” the factory will have a higher “fibre demand.” This is a concept which I know will be difficult to accept. The storage of cane will lead to frequent factory stops which will again increase the fibre demand. The importance of bagasse is increasing from year to year.

The research we see in journals and in proceedings from external organisations is often in response to situations affecting these groups and reflects their inter est. It is apparent that we will be forced to continue to use bagasse as a fuel and we cannot afford to lose the supplies which we store between crops.

Bagasse: Some insights into the cause of the deterioration on storage pdf