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Despite dense clouds and intermittent rainfall, hundreds of patrons flocked the Minard Estate in Brown’s Town, St. Ann on Thursday (November 11) to support the 13th staging of the Minard Livestock Show and Beef Festival.
The event, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Agro Investment Corporation, was held under the theme, “Partnering in Livestock Production”.
“The beef and dairy sectors are vitally important to Jamaica’s economy, contributing $9.5 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009 and currently providing employment to approximately 13,000 persons,” Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon J.C. Hutchinson, said in his address.
Pointing to the Ministry’s awareness of the challenges within the sector, Mr. Hutchinson said that the Government was committed to restoring the beef and dairy industry to good health.

Special Projects Assistant at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Christine Adegold (right), making a presentation to teacher at the Edgehill School of Special Education, Shannon Brown. Edgehill School of Special Education was the winner of the JIS giveaway promotion at the Minard Livestock Show and Beef Festival in Brown’s Town St. Ann on Thursday (November 11).

“Two years ago, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a Dairy Sector Revitalization Programme with an allocation of $80 million from the capital budget,” he said, noting that it was extended this year, with an additional $60 million, and that beef and dairy farmers have been benefiting from loans granted under the programme.
In order for the revitalized programme to be successful, he said that it must have the cooperation, commitment and support of the sector’s stakeholders.
“We have begun the work in providing the enabling environment with the passage of the Dairy Development Act, (and) with the board in place, to make sure that this is carried out properly,” he said.
He stated that the new body is trying to develop a road map to stabilize the sector for current players, and then to make it attractive to new entrants who may find ways to develop value added linkages.

A section of the crowd at Minard Livestock Show and Beef Festival 2010 at Minard Estate in Brown’s Town on Thursday (November 11).

He added that it is the Ministry’s intention to continue to educate and raise the awareness of local consumers, as to the high quality available from the local producers, through the Eat Jamaican Programmme.
The decline of the sector has been happening over the past two decades, he pointed out. The current government continues to advocate commitment, but recognizes that it will not be an overnight solution, or a short term reversal of the decline.
“The plans that we are putting in place will not immediately turn around your financial “bottom line”, but we hope it will slowly get traction as confidence builds,” he said, urging the farmers to continue to cooperate with the Ministry for the benefit of the industry.