Samuda denies pork glut, despite high production
Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda has described the oversupply of pork on the local market as evidence of self-sufficiency in the production of the fresh pork by Jamaican farmers and not a glut, as reported this week.
Even though admitting that there has been a significant reduction in the amount of pork bellies and pig's tail - two items for which the country has not been able to meet demand - as well as plans by his ministry to help farmers develop an export strategy for pork and pork
products, the minister dismissed as speculation the admission by industry players that the market was flooded.
"When the speculation was rife about pork, we called in the head of the Pig Farmers Association and got the facts, and we are both at one with respect to the conclusions that we have drawn," Samuda told a press conference at the ministry's St Andrew office yesterday.
Importation of pork bellies last year fell by some 400,000 kilogrammes over 2015.
"Local production is the highest it has ever been," the minister stated, a situation which, according to Dr Dayton Campbell, opposition spokesman on agriculture, has resulted in local processors of ham still having large stockpiles in storage, resulting in hardships for pig farmers who are facing severe financial stress as processors have significantly cut their purchases.
Information by the agriculture ministry shows that last year, 149,239 animals were slaughtered for a combined weight of 9,856,512 kilogrammes and dressing out at 8,213,760 kilogrammes, well over the 101,834 pigs butchered for consumption in 2015, accounting for 7,048,607 kilogrammes and total dress weight of 5,873,840 kilogrammes.
Hanif Brown, president of the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association, told The Gleaner that the all-time high production was a result of farmers being seduced by the good prices in 2015 and ignoring advice from the association not to increase production.