Goat, sheep farmers urged to boost production
Goat and sheep farmers are being urged to take steps to increase the production of meat.
This is in order to satisfy the high demand from distributors, who are being encouraged to support local production instead of importing, said acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Reginald Budhan.
He said data provided by the health ministry's Veterinary Public Health Division show that the production of goat and sheep meat fell from just over 963,000 kilograms in 2013 to 751,625 kilograms in 2014.
He noted that that was despite a decline in imports from more than one million kilograms in 2008 to just under 603,000 kilograms in 2014, consequent on a revision to the tariff levied on those products.
Budhan said the revision entailed the application of a 20.75 per cent duty on imports, in addition to the five per cent Common External Tariff.
"When we (the ministry) looked at the level of imports, we concluded that we had to make imports less attractive. So we prepared a comprehensive analysis, which was presented to the Ministry of Finance (in 2012) and we were successful in getting the duties increased," he explained.
PURCHASE LOCAL MEATS
Budhan's remarks was contained in a speech delivered on his behalf by agricultural marketing director in the Ministry, Sandor Pike, at the Small Ruminants Association of Jamaica's (SRAJ) annual conference at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station, Old Harbour, St Catherine last Thursday.
The acting permanent secretary said the ministry successfully lobbied distributors to purchase more locally produced meats.
He noted, however, that the decline in imports has not realised a commensurate increase in the local output.
Budhan pointed out that this was of concern to distributors who have indicated a need for an organised system to consistently supply the volumes of meat that will satisfy demand.
"That does not exist. The landscape in Jamaica is one in which you have pockets of production all over [the country]," he said.
He is encouraging farmers to "start to work together. Put yourselves into groups and organise your operations in such a way so that when these traders want (meat), they can get it readily," he added.
That suggestion was endorsed by SRAJ President Kenneth King, who agreed that clustering "seems to be the way to go (as) it can be helpful to each other".