JAS President Upbeat That Christmas Demand Will Be Met

Photo: President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Norman Grant.

Story Highlights

  • President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Norman Grant, is upbeat that the sector will respond fully to the demand for chicken, pork and eggs for the 2016 Christmas season.
  • Mr. Grant adds that there has been strong performance in poultry, which has experienced approximately 11 per cent increase in production so far this year.
  • The President says local farmers are now producing whole chickens costing $100 per pound, which is equivalent to the (cost) of imported chicken back and neck.

President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Norman Grant, is upbeat that the sector will respond fully to the demand for chicken, pork and eggs for the 2016 Christmas season.

In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Grant adds that due to the sector’s record 28 per cent growth for the third quarter this year, there will be no need to import these foods, as the local sector is able to supply the demand for these Christmas items.

He also notes that the sector has experienced tremendous growth in domestic crop production.

“The agricultural sector has experienced an exceptional year, primarily due to support from the Ministry of Agriculture, RADA and the JAS. We also had some excellent weather following two years of back-to-back drought that saw the domestic crop production reduced from 615,000 metric tonnes in 2013 to some 571,000 metric tonnes in 2014. There was an increase in 2015 to 579,000 metric tonnes,” he notes.

Mr. Grant adds that there has been strong performance in poultry, which has experienced approximately 11 per cent increase in production so far this year.

“Last year, we did somewhere in the region of 76 million kilogrammes. This year, we are projected to do in the region of 116 million kilogrammes, which is a tremendous performance, and the small poultry farmers have increased the production market share, moving from over 30 per cent last year to close to 40 per cent this year. That is big performance for the Christmas.  Last year, we did 120 million eggs and this year we are projected to do 160 million eggs,” he informs.

The President says local farmers are now producing whole chickens costing $100 per pound, which is equivalent to the (cost) of imported chicken back and neck.

“The Jamaican poultry farmers have gotten so efficient that they are growing whole chickens at the same price we import and distribute chicken back and neck in the trade. We are pushing to get production of chicken up to about 250 to 300 million kilogrammes, and at that time we won’t need to import chicken back or neck, because we would be producing chicken at a competitive level, and that, for me, is tremendous news,” he adds.

The President also notes that the local market will be able to satisfy 90 per cent of demand for Irish potato, as well as a variety of root tubers, sorrel, vegetables and seasoning, for the Christmas period.

He says consumers can expect ample supply of sorrel for the traditional Jamaican Christmas beverage, pointing out that local farmers have begun producing the crop throughout the year.

On the matter of imported rice, Mr. Grant says the JAS is advocating import substitution for the product.

“We now have this big conversation about rice. We can instead eat yam, cassava, banana, sweet potato and Irish potato. Let’s grow for those import substitutions,” he encourages.

The JAS President is recommending the development of a rice industry in Jamaica to meet the overwhelming demand for the product.

“We consume a lot of rice in Jamaica. I think the time has come for us to really think about the development of a rice industry in Jamaica. The JAS is looking to engage parties and partners who want to get involved in rice production because we think there is a big opportunity locally,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Grant anticipates that the sector will continue to see considerable growth, with a surge in growth in the fourth quarter.

“I expect to see at least a 20 per cent growth at minimum. That would move us to somewhere in excess of 600,000 metric tonnes. That would be a fantastic result, in line with the ‘Eat What We Grow’ campaign, which aims to produce enough food for Jamaicans to eat to reduce our reliance on imports and to reduce our import bill,” the President says.

Mr.  Grant tells JIS News that the JAS will be pushing next year to break all quarter records. “We are going to engage all our partners very early on that,” he notes.

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