Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
THE JAMAICA Pig Farmers Association (JPFA) has embarked on an islandwide campaign to get more Jamaicans to eat pork. Come next year, it plans to saturate the airwaves and newspapers with information about the nutritional benefits of this protein.
While not divulging details, president Angella Bardowell said the association plans to hit the ground running in the new year, with a number of innovations to promote pork, getting the pig farmers and the public involved in the scheme of things.
Formed in 2002, the association has created some sense of order in a business which formerly went through an annual cycle of gluts and shortages. Now, whenever the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries gets a request for importation of pork or pork by-products, it consults with the association and if members are able to supply the product, the request for an import is usually denied, resulting in a gradual decline in volume of importation over the years.
The 1,000-member-strong group is looking to address the current oversupply of pork and address the factors which have led to this situation. Still, a recent census identifying some 6,000 pig farmers in Jamaica presents another challenge, Bardowell told AgroGleaner. "If we are not able to capture the numbers, then we can't plant adequately and won't be able to reach the majority of the persons to give them advice as to what is happening in the market or as to what the indicators are," she stated.
It will also seek to widen its range of services to include offering advice to people looking to enter the market, many of whom have no idea about the business before venturing into it.
Bardowell explained the relevance: "Even up to this week, I was talking to some new entrants into the business and I was pointing out to them that the industry has been flat since August and they were not aware. It was news to them; they were not aware of it and they were going into the business.
"So they were just going in because it looks easy and they don't think about the cost and all that is involved. So for next year also, we want re-energise our parish chapters. In the last executive year, we did some training for the parish reps and so, come January, we'll be reviving those chapters. The rest have already been trained so we are now going to galvanise them in the parishes to set up the offices to be more vibrant."
The association will also benefit from the feedback which will translate into more up-to-date information to guide its planning going forward. More training sessions are planned to get members to appreciate the importance of record keeping and production costs.