Tue | May 17, 2022

Have open conversations on developing agriculture in Ja

Published:Saturday | January 29, 2022 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The gravamen of the situation facing the agricultural industry, in terms of the increasing costs of inputs, is an absolute reality. In his recent parliamentary address, the Honourable Pearnel Charles Jr cites examples of this, such as the increasing costs of fertiliser. These increases will impact all consumers of all agricultural inputs produced in Jamaica.

The challenges being faced are not exclusive to poultry. It is notable that poultry has moved by 28 per cent year over year (yoy), but, if we were to broaden the discussion, then, to include every local product that has undergone price increases as a result of these global impacts, are we looking at a widescale policy change on all agricultural products? If we were to do so, this would mean potentially destroying years of work on the ground to establish solid industries that have contributed substantially to our local food security.

PRODUCT PER CENT MOVEMENT (YOY)

(Jan 21 - Jan 22)

Local broiler meat 28 per cent

Irish potato 44 per cent

Vegetable oil 36 per cent

Onion 150 per cent

Margarine 33 per cent

Lettuce 110 per cent

Hardo bread 22 per cent

Sweet potato 150 per cent

Flour (bulk) 36 per cent

Beef 32 per cent

Rice 41 per cent

Goat 33 per cent

Salt fish 36 per cent

Pork 40 per cent

The Jamaican poultry industry has been the largest, most efficient and productive agricultural industry in the Caribbean for many years. It is innovative, with billions of dollars invested in new technology, primarily by farmers, over the last five years. The Jamaican poultry industry is deep, employing thousands of people, and broad, with over 150,000 small farmers supplementing their income through small chicken businesses. It is an industry of collaboration among several contributors; there is no evidence of price gouging, monopolistic behaviour or product shortage.

The inflation we are currently experiencing is the reality being faced globally and is now beginning to hit home for Jamaica. The cost of living is on the rise for everyone. We, as a country, need to discuss the solutions from a holistic perspective and not risk the dissolution of the last remaining large agriculture industry.

We are willing to be part of the dialogue towards feasible solutions for all stakeholders. Let’s open the conversation to include players that have repeatedly demonstrated their passion for developing the agricultural sector and growing Jamaica.

CHRISTOPHER LEVY

Group President and CEO

Jamaica Broilers Group Limited