The Full Story
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, has lauded local egg farmers for their resilience in navigating the challenges to their enterprises posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Mr. Green, who was speaking during the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association’s annual general meeting at the Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on February 3, said despite market fluctuations that saw egg farmers losing out on the usually reliable and lucrative hotel sector, there were still some positives emerging and reasons for optimism.
“The production of eggs grew by 24.9 per cent, which represents a production level of 208 million eggs. So despite the challenges you were still able to grow… and support your members,” he pointed out.
Mr. Green said the challenges wreaked by COVID-19 prompted the Ministry to intervene to alleviate the impact on stakeholders across the agricultural sector, particularly egg farmers.
The Minister noted that when the Government crafted its buy-back programme, where farmers were allowed to sell their products to the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) for distribution to the local market, “we made sure not to leave out our egg farmers”.
“We crafted out a special facility of $6 million for our egg farmers. They were able to benefit from a Ministry programme which facilitated a mobile market for members of the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association [by] utilising a number of private-sector partners,” Mr. Green added.
“So what we basically did was we looked at a strategy which enabled the egg farmers to offer the eggs at a special price to help the movement and additional purchase of the eggs and we worked out a formula where, basically, the Ministry tops up that price for them or ensures that it was feasible”.
Minister Green said the buy-back programme was a tremendous success, adding that it may have been the single biggest initiative that saved the egg industry from the COVID-19 pandemic onslaught.
He assured that the Government has no plans to abandon egg farmers, noting that “we will continue on that trajectory” of intervening when necessary to protect an industry that also has “great nutritional value”.
Noting that eggs “are probably the best low-cost source of protein, minerals and almost all vitamins”, Mr. Green said it was imperative to “get our population to recognise this and, frankly, consume more”.
“This is important now, more then than ever, as when you think about what COVID-19 has done to the world… [and] as you think about the breaks in our trade cycles and all the other challenges… we have to pay attention to our health and also our food consumption,” he stated.