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Jamaica’s poultry industry has placed the country among the five leading countries within CARICOM with a potential for intra-regional trade in whole chicken.
Jamaica is also one of four countries with an opportunity to trade in chicken parts. State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Errol Ennis made this disclosure as he addressed poultry farmers at a Jamaica Broilers awards luncheon held at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club on Thursday, September 1.
Quoting from a recently concluded Competitiveness Study, initiated by the Caribbean Poultry Industry and funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, Mr. Ennis further stated, “this means that Jamaica’s poultry industry has become internationally competitive”. He added, “that is not to say”, he continued, that the sector doesn’t still need protection as it does, and the government will continue to do so”.
The State Minister said, “the Jamaican poultry industry’s remarkable performance was ample proof of the significant investment being made by the sector”.
He also pointed out that the success of the sector was an indication of the type of achievement the government wanted to see replicated in the general economy.
However Mr. Ennis noted that the study also indicated that there was still room for improvement as, “CARICOM, which includes Jamaica, was unable to compete in the trade of chicken parts except in the production of value added products and food safety”.
Minister Ennis praised the efforts of poultry farmers who he said despite significant losses after Hurricane Ivan and additional hurdles after Hurricanes Dennis and Emily, had displayed the tenacity needed to survive and succeed.
The poultry industry has seen an increase of 25.1 per cent over the last five years moving from 77.1 million kilograms of output in 2000 to just under 96.5 million kilograms last year.
The Minister also pointed out that the sector was a gross employer of skilled and unskilled labour “including over 12,000 independent small farmers and more than 4,000 persons in the two main processing and feed milling operations in the island”.
Production for 2004 stood at 96.5 million kilograms of poultry meat and over 10.4 million dozen eggs valuing over $1.57 billion.
Ebony Park Farms was adjudged the top farm for Jamaica Broilers and received the prize of $300,000. Atkins Farm and Percival Williams received $200,000 and $100,000 for second and third place, respectively.