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Buchanan promises R&D support for ailing cattle industry

Published:Friday | April 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Expressing concern about the ongoing decline in beef and dairy production, Agriculture and Fisheries State Minister Luther Buchanan has promised greater support for research and development to help cattle farmers improve production and productivity.

He also cited the need to focus on preserving and improving the country's four indigenous cattle breeds.

Buchanan, who was guest speaker at Wednesday's 57th annual general meeting of the Jamaica Hope Cattle Breeders Society at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St Catherine, pointed to the registration of only 334 Red Poll cattle last year, compared to 492 registered in 2013, as a measure of the decline now impacting the industry.

"This reduction in the number of Red Poll cattle registration is worrying and it is imperative that we strive towards conservation of this breed, along with

our Jamaica Black, Hope and Brahman, which are at-risk herds," he told the farmers.




"The ministry, in recognition of the need to improve on our stock and maintain viability Ö . We are providing genetic material and enhanced multiplication techniques for herd expansion. Working with the Dairy Board and breed societies, we will also continue our work of improving and preserving our indigenous breeds," he assured.

Although not providing details, Buchanan said collaboration with tertiary institutions, as well as local and overseas research centres, would be a key to achieving the desired results.

While commending those farmers who have kept the industry alive at great personal and financial sacrifices, Buchanan challenged them to do more.

"There is still room for significant improvement, and this is borne out by the fact that in 2012, the livestock sector contributed approximately J$10.4 billion to the economy. We are aware that there are many possibilities for cattle farmers. If we are to capitalise on these opportunities, we must increase our productivity and improve our on-farm practices so that we can build consumer confidence both locally and internationally," the state minister added.