UC Rusal needs to take urgent action to save cattle
THE EDITOR, Madam:
As chairman of the Cattle Breeders Society of Jamaica (CBSJ), I want to congratulate The Gleaner and Christopher Serju on an excellent exposé on the sorry state of the cattle under the management of UC Rusal in Manchester. I was appalled and shocked.
The cattle operation at UC Rusal has been deteriorating for a number of years. As far back as August 23, 2017, we had a meeting with J.C. Hutchinson, then minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF); Dermon Spence, chief technical director of MICAF; Lisa Myers-Morgan, principal director of research and development at the Bodles Research Station; Byron Lawrence, acting CEO of the Dairy Development Board, and a representative from UC Rusal.
At that meeting, we pointed out to them our dismay at the deterioration of their farms, in particular Grove Place. Grove Place was once a premier cattle farm, from the 1940s to the time UC Rusal took over its management. In the words of one of our members “It is now a disgrace”.
We offered our technical assistance to correct what we viewed as their management defects, as they are members of the Cattle Breeders Society of Jamaica. Unfortunately, we had no response from them. Again, on December 10, 2018, we wrote Aleksander Plutov, then director of agriculture at UC Rusal, pointing out that we had seen no improvement since 2017. Again, we offered our assistance, and again received no response.
We visited Grove Place for a Red Poll appraisal in 2019 and, at that time, they were having a drought. The cattle were in very poor condition, some emaciated and the majority tick-infested. The pastures were non-existent.
On May 5, 2021, we wrote to Maksym Losyev, acting agriculture director, and we pointed out how important it was for their company to improve their management of both their beef and dairy farms. We viewed Jamaican cattle breeds as a national treasure which they appeared to be in the process of destroying. The fact that they had stopped participating in both the registration and appraisals of their herds is indicative of their lack of interest. In closing our letter to them, we said “We do hope that steps will be taken to rectify this undesirable situation in the shortest possible time. You may wish to advise us of the actions that you propose to take in response to the situation that we have brought to your attention. The CBSJ stands ready to collaborate with Windalco in ensuring a speedy resolution of the concerns highlighted”.
Again – we did not get any response.
The Society still stands ready to provide technical assistance to the company, which would support the alleviation of the current crisis.
Cattle Breeders Society of Jamaica