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Local poultry producers insist on review of importation process

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2020 | 1:25 PM
File photo.

Five groups representing poultry producers, today, insisted on a review of the process for the importation of chicken and chicken parts. 

In a full page advertisement in The Sunday Gleaner, the producers called for Prime Minister Andrew Holness "to bring more balance and transparency" and remove corruption from the process. 

The message was endorsed by the Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA), the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA); Jamaica Broilers, under its Best Dressed Chicken brand; Caribbean Broilers (CB Group) and what the advertisement described as thousands of Jamaican broiler farmers. 

The advert by the stakeholders follows a Jamaica Gleaner story on Thursday highlighting a report by the Integrity Commission, which shows that some importers have been blending in leg quarters among shipments of chicken back and neck to circumvent combined tariffs for premium parts. The tariffs reportedly amount to as much as 240 per cent. 

It criticised the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for giving preferential treatment to applicants on the basis of prior importation history and suggested that the integrity of the award process was compromised and hindered competition.

In light of the issue, the commission has recommended that the ministry immediately stop the issuance of chicken back and neck import permits. 

"This is a regional issue that must be addressed," the CPA said in the advertisement published today, while the JMEA warned that government could be repeating the mistakes that led to the demise of the dairy industry in the 1990s.

"This is an opportunity to reset Jamaica's economic base," the JMEA said. 

The group representing small farmers insisted that local producers are able to supply the market.    

"Imports directly replace our production," the small farmers pleaded. "We can supply Jamaica."

The CB Group agreed, and said while it understands the need for low cost proteins, it strongly believes the local industry is able to not only supply the market, but, at the same time, create employment for Jamaicans. 

"We support an overall reduction in our import bill and regulation towards increased transparency," the CB Group said. 

The Best Dressed Chicken similarly called for greater transparency, noting that the producers have seen the impact of support from the agriculture ministry. 

"The damage to the industry due to corrupt practises can no longer be accepted. The growth of the entire industry, including rural farmers leads to the development of our nation," the brand said.

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