The Full Story
The almost $200-million expansion of Best Dressed Chicken’s Cumberland Hatchery in Portmore is being hailed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., as a major boost for the agriculture sector.
The expansion increases the hatchery’s capacity by 70 per cent, allowing the company to better meet the demands of the local market and, particularly, small poultry farmers, by ensuring a steady supply of baby chicks.
Among the upgrades to the facility are the addition of four new setters and two new hatchers as well as improvements to the general infrastructure.
The facility, which provides for the hatching of eggs in a safe, controlled environment, now features improved temperature control, ventilation and air flow management in keeping with the requirements of a modern hatchery operation, while helping to preserve biosecurity.
Speaking at the reopening ceremony on Wednesday (May 10), Minister Charles Jr., said the Jamaica Broilers Group, which is the parent organisation of Best Dressed Chicken, continues to be a “primary strategic partner” with a “long and rich history” of assisting small farmers across Jamaica.
“This expansion is part of the response to the call for us to continue to innovate and to introduce the kind of technology that will push Jamaica forward,” he said.
Noting the uncertainties over the last few years, the Minister said that “had it not been for companies like Jamaica Broilers, had it not been for our strategic relationships that we could lean on, I don’t think that Jamaica would be able to say as a nation that we have not just recovered but recovered stronger.”
Affirming that the poultry sector is a significant provider of jobs for many Jamaicans, he encouraged Jamaica Broilers to continue making strides and to push the ‘Grow Smart, Eat Smart’ narrative.
He added that the Agriculture Ministry, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has also been providing resources to poultry farmers, particularly through the National Broiler Programme and the Production Incentive Programme
For his part, Group President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Broilers Group, Christopher Levy, said that the upgrade is an investment in the small farmers of the country, who represent 30 per cent of the production of poultry meat in Jamaica.
“It’s done by roughly 200,000 small farmers across the island, mostly women, mostly for a second income,” he pointed out.
The Cumberland hatchery, along with the company’s White Marl facility, feeds into Jamaica Broilers’ Hi-Pro brand that serves these small farmers by providing them with day-old chicks.
Mr. Levy said that the small poultry farmers are the country’s first line of defence against imported poultry, and the recent investment in the Cumberland Hatchery is to bring the company “up to amazing standards”.
Furthermore, he outlined that the move is hoped to instil greater confidence in the poultry sector and spur other investments.
“Our economy is in the best condition we’ve seen… and it’s an opportunity for us, as a nation, as a country, as an industry to say we’re going to build Jamaica, invest in Jamaica… the people and communities… because we’re at a very important point in our nation,” Mr. Levy said.
The launch event included a tour of the hatchery by Minister Charles Jr.