KINGSTON — Jamaicans are being encouraged to eat more locally produced chicken meat, in an effort to further boost the sector and to increase employment among local workers.
"What we're trying to do is to get persons to eat more of the local chickens and to hold down on some of the imports, so that we can employ more of our people in the industry," Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague has said.
The Minister was speaking to journalists, following a tour of the Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies processing plant in Spring Village, Old Harbour, St. Catherine on September 1.
Mr. Montague lamented the abundance of chicken meat that is brought into the country, which he said is a matter of concern for the Ministry of Agriculture and an issue that must be addressed urgently. "These are cheap imports with very low duties," he said.
The Minister said there has to be a delicate balance between what is imported and what is produced, "so that we have a sensible mix in our market."
"This will ensure that the consumer is not asked to pay too much, while at the same time our local production remains viable," he argued.
Mr. Montague said the Ministry is committed to finding and maintaining that balance to ensure the development of a thriving and authentic agricultural industry.
In the meantime, the Minister commended Jamaica Broilers on its exceptional performance and high quality production at its several facilities, including the main headquarters in McCook's Pen, Old Harbour; the Power Plant in Spring Village, the Feed Mill in Bodles, St. Catherine and the ACE Supercentre and Hatchery in White Marl, St. Catherine.
"What we are seeing is an integrated and top of the line farming operation that is very efficient, and ranked in the top ten of worldwide chicken operations," he said.
"Jamaica Broilers, over the years, has been a true Jamaican company that has stood the test of time, and has been through the good times and the bad times and is still with us," the Minister noted.
Among those accompanying Mr. Montague on the tour were: Minister of State in the Ministry, J.C. Hutchinson and Special Adviser to the Minister, Dennis Wright. Guiding the tour were President and Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Broilers Group, Christopher Levy; Vice President, Operations, David Mair, and Technical Manager, Fred Hanley.
The Jamaica Broilers Group of Companies began operations in 1958 as Jamaica's pioneer producer of broiler meat on a commercial basis. Over the years the company has developed its operations, and now boasts a fully integrated poultry operation. It has also diversified into feed milling, cattle rearing, beef production and fish farming, along with the development and marketing of other value-added products for both local and foreign consumption.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter