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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has urged farmers to prepare to significantly increase the rearing of small ruminants as the Government intends to import less goat meat into the country.
  • The Agriculture Minister, while congratulating the farmers for the work they have been putting into their farming activities, resulting in the sector recording more than 10 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2013, indicated that there is still much more work to be done.
  • Minister Clarke disclosed that the Ministry is continuing dialogue with a local seafood restaurant chain with a view to increasing their purchasing and sale of local fish.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, has urged farmers to prepare to significantly increase the rearing of small ruminants as the Government intends to import less goat meat into the country.

“We are self-sufficient in pork and in poultry, but we import a lot of mutton. We eat a lot of curry goat, but some 80 per cent of the goat meat we eat is imported.  We want to change that and that is why we are seeking to improve our programme for small ruminants,” Minister Clarke said.

He was addressing the 58th Annual Hague Agricultural Livestock and Food Show in Falmouth, Trelawny, on March 5. The show which attracted thousands of patrons, was held under the theme, ‘Empowering youths in agriculture: grow what we eat, eat what we grow’.

The Agriculture Minister, while congratulating the farmers for the work they have been putting into their farming activities, resulting in the sector recording more than 10 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2013, indicated that there is still much more work to be done.

“As we seek to expand the rearing of goat and sheep, the Ministry’s Livestock Unit at Bodles is currently implementing a small ruminant production four-year project, with emphasis on the provision of improved genetics of goat and sheep for breeding and expansion of the government’s nucleus of herds for dissemination to farmers on satellite farms,” Minister Clarke informed.

He pointed out that the project would lead to the production of fatteners for meat and other value-added products.

“The project is now in year two, with over 50 per cent of the animals required and we expect to acquire the remaining 50 per cent by the end of March 2014.  Not only are we focused on increased production but it is also important that we increase our productivity,” Minister Clarke asserted.

Turning to other areas of the targeted growth in the agricultural sector, the Minister indicated that plans are underway for the resuscitation of inland fishery resources.

“Let us also talk about our fisheries and aquaculture sector.  Even as we continue to reap the successes of our marine fishery conservation areas, we are also working to promote the resuscitation of our inland fishery resources and for that reason we have dedicated two agro-parks, one at Hill Run in St. Catherine and one at Meylersfield in Westmoreland to aquaculture.  We are rebuilding the abandoned fish ponds, as we seek to rebuild the aquaculture sector in Jamaica,” Minister Clarke told the opening ceremony for the show.

Meanwhile, Minister Clarke disclosed that the Ministry is continuing dialogue with a local seafood restaurant chain with a view to increasing their purchasing and sale of local fish.

He also informed that the Ministry is exploring the possibility of introducing the rearing of silver snapper, which would result in a larger-size fish being produced for fillet purposes.

“This is the moment.  Let us seize this moment because Jamaica’s hope and Jamaica’s future lies significantly in the growth and development of the agricultural sector … if we are to grow the economy, we have to grow the agriculture sector focusing on issues of food security, import substitution and increased output both in our produce sector and our livestock sector,” the Minister emphasised.