JIS News

The Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) is working to implement an islandwide cattle identification programme by next month, following the recent conclusion of a pilot phase of the project.
Project Director of the ASSP, Hershell Brown, told JIS News that with the pilot phase completed, an assessment was currently underway on the issues that were recognised during the pilot period. “This identification project will see the country being able to identify a cut of meat from the farm from which it came. This is a requirement at present for a number of countries to which we export, wherein the source of all agricultural produce must be identified,” Mr. Brown explained.
The initial phase of the programme was implemented in September 2005, under the ASSP’s Animal Identification System. Under the system, plastic and metal tags were affixed to the ear of each head of cattle, with numbers to indicate parish and farm holding. A ‘passport’ for each head of cattle was also developed, and farmers were able to register the birth of their calves to allow for the ‘trace-back’ of a cut of beef to a particular slaughterhouse or butchery.
During the initial phase of the programme, the animals were tagged at farms in Claremont, St. Ann and Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour,St. Catherine.
Mr. Brown told JIS News that while the project began with cattle, the animal identification programme would embrace all other livestock, inclusive of pigs, sheep, and goats.
It is anticipated that the second phase of the identification programme, which would include other livestock, would commence by mid-2007, he said.He disclosed that the ASSP was currently involved in some 26 projects around the island that were initiated based on studies done earlier by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.
Noting that the main purpose of the ASSP was to enhance the competitiveness of Jamaican agriculture in the local and global marketplace, which in turn would contribute to an increase in the returns to the Jamaican producers, Mr. Brown pointed out that the major products currently being promoted by the ASSP were sweet potato, scallion, hot pepper, and some other vegetables; lamb, mutton, and pork.
On the current status of the 26 projects, he said that, “at this point in time [they] are producing and quite a lot of the produce are going to the export market, while some are being used as import substitution”.
He pointed out that the Green Adventures Project in St. Elizabeth had shown much promise, producing escallion for the Walkerswood factory in St. Ann, and the farmers exceeding their target by producing some 40,000 pounds of escallion per month. The Project Director also informed that the ASSP-affiliated sheep production project has also performed satisfactorily.
“We are presently importing 99.7 per cent of the mutton that is used locally. The sheep production project is slated to replace 25 per cent of this imported mutton over the next 2 years. With this industry, we are seeing extreme interest from farmers, so that project is also doing very well,” Mr. Brown said.
In relation to honey production, he reported that both production and productivity in the local honey market had increased significantly over the last three years.
“Productivity has increased from 2.5 gallons per hive to 7.5 gallons per hive,” Mr. Brown noted, adding that demand for honey was on the rise.

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