Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, said that Jamaica has the capacity to produce adequate numbers of livestock, competitively and comparatively, to supply meat for the local and export markets.
This, he contended, however, is contingent on the collaborative efforts of all sector stakeholders in harmonising activities, particularly relating to animal health and disease surveillance, food safety, and veterinary certification of animals and their by-products.
“We can produce them here, in Jamaica, competitively and comparatively, but I know that it is not going to happen overnight and we have to work with our producers and our processors and the veterinary department (to make it happen),” the Minister contended, as he addressed a recent food safety workshop at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Mona campus in St. Andrew.
Mr. Montague stated that livestock is part of his nine-point plan for agriculture, especially pork and dairy.
“Dairy,…for the simple reason,…that we produce some 662,000 school lunches, every day that school is in session but the local (diary) content of our school lunches is almost zero. It is my view that we can expand the space at the table for our dairy farmers. If we do 662,000 eight-ounce glasses of milk (per day), that’s a whole heap of milk, but what I have discovered is that we only have about 17,000 dairy cows in the country,” he informed.
Additionally, he lamented that while there is high demand for pork and pork by-products, “nobody is breeding (pigs) to replenish the country’s stock”.
The two-day workshop was hosted by the Ministry’s Veterinary Services Division under the theme: ‘The Role of Veterinary Services in Food Safety – The Way Forward’.
More than 20 participants in the food industry attended the forum, which facilitated interactive discussions involving the Division, other regulatory agencies, and sector stakeholders engaged in providing safe animal products.
The forum was aimed at increasing awareness of the role and functionality of veterinary services in food safety, based on international standards, as well as to examine options in achieving required food safety standards.
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter