Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Brascoe Lee making mega money - Exporting ram goat products abroad pays off

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2017 | 1:00 AMSashakay Fairclough
Brascoe Lee displays some of his products during an interview with The Gleaner in Wait-a-Bit, Trelawny last Monday.
Brascoe Lee, the man behind the Spicy Hill Farm label.
Shanice King washing the goat's skin at Spicy Hill Farm.
Garcia Green, a worker on the Spicy Hill Farm, preparing goat skin for one of the products created on the farm.
Spicy Hill Farm in Wait-a-Bit, Trelawny, owned by Brascoe Lee.
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Not many Jamaicans would believe that exporting items such as Ram Goat Soup and Ram It Up Curry Booster would be able to turn a profit in such a tough and competitive economic climate, but Brascoe Lee is no ordinary citizen. The former member of Parliament for South Trelawny and state minister in the Ministry of Agriculture managed to do the unthinkable in 2016 and exceeded US$400,000 worth of exports.

His manufacturing company, Spicy Hill Farms was established 10 years ago in the remote community of Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny, but the idea was developed decades earlier, while Lee was working in the agriculture ministry.

"I knew what Jamaica needed when I entered politics. It is all about creating products. We need more projects and products that can make headway internationally," he said.

 

THE BIRTH OF HIS IDEA

 

He got the idea to create his first product, Ram Goat Soup, when he came to the realisation that, in Jamaica, whether people are having a wedding or a funeral, ram goat soup is always a popular delicacy there. It took him nearly three years of continuous work to develop a soup mix that could be commercialised; that is, packaged and presented in a particular way. Following the development, he built a factory, then designed and built all 14 pieces of machinery on site.

After some time, the Ram It Up Curry Booster and Dried Scotch Bonnet Pepper were produced. Both products are doing extremely well on the market but the pepper is exceptional because it is granulated and not liquid. Nevertheless, the challenges of the local market has forced Lee to move toward the construction of his own pepper farm.

He said, "We are now developing a pepper farm for our product because prices are not stagnant in Jamaica. I cannot change the price in London, for example, just because it fluctuates locally, so it would be best to grow."

When asked about the challenges he faces, Lee quickly pointed out that his company employs more than 30 locals and even though he is proud to help his community, he admits that many had never worked prior to that. Therefore, they have to be taught discipline, production, how to work for a big company, and many other pertinent things.

Jamaica imports far more than it exports so Lee is encouraging others to join the exporting industry but only if they know how to overcome day to day challenges.

"People need to remember that the goods are going into a First-World market so they cannot produce second-rate products and expect to export them. When we started to appear in the American market, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) wrote me and said that for me to continue exporting, they would have to come to Jamaica and inspect my factory. The inspector was impressed that our products conformed to US standards. Very few companies in the world are approved by the FDA after their first inspection, so we are proud of this achievement."

Lee hopes to have longevity in the industry and is now teaching his grandsons the intricacies of the business in the hopes that one day, they will take over and continue its growth and success.