KINGSTON — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, says that as part of his plans to develop the agricultural sector, he will be looking at expanding the local pig industry.
Speaking to journalists following a tour of the Newport Genetics facilities in Bodles, St. Catherine, on Thursday August 18, Mr. Montague noted that the Jamaican pig industry has a bright future and a great potential for expansion.
Newport Genetics, part of the Caribbean Broilers Group, is a cutting edge facility specialising in breeding and rearing pigs.
“The vision is to see to it that we do not have to import into Jamaica any pork products, and also to look at the next phase of exporting these products,” he stated.
The Minister said the first move is to get pig rearing facilities up to ISO standard, while working with relevant financial institutions to obtain financing for farmers who want to enter the industry.
“We are also in discussions with Newport, in terms of providing a market to the farmer who may want to get into ‘fattening’. And we will be speaking to other players in the industry, to see how we can expand the industry without oversupplying the market,” he stated.
However, he said that the development and expansion of the industry would have to be done very carefully, to ensure against a glut in the market.
“Historically… if you look at the cycle over the years, every now and again you have a glut, and what we’re trying to do is to smooth that out by getting into more processing and exporting,” he advised.
He noted that one possibility would be to take advantage of Newport’s products, including its corned pork, which could be canned and exported to the Jamaican Diaspora in North America.
“We have Jamaicans who own hotels overseas, and I will be having discussions with them, to see if we can supply those hotels with bi-products from pork made in Jamaica,” he said.
He advised that, after looking at the operations at Newport, he will have discussions with the relevant persons on how the operations can be expanded. He said the Ministry has also been speaking with the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association, in a bid to find the delicate balance.
Part of his plans to expand the industry, would also be to look at technology, including artificial insemination, and how this can assist farmers in maximising profits.
He said the Ministry was also looking at partnering with Newport Genetics in training the Rural Agricultural Development Authority’s (RADA) livestock officers, to pass on this knowledge to farmers in the field. He also commended the Newport Group for investing in the pig industry and for bringing the latest technology into Jamaica.
“I want to congratulate them on the work they are doing, and the level of investment in the industry; not just in cash, but also in training of not only their employees but the farmers that are out there in the field, and also for helping to save, enhance and promote the industry,” he stated.
Mr. Montague also conducted an extensive tour of several other facilities under the Caribbean Broilers Group, including the Newport Wharf and Feed Mills facilities on Marcus Garvey Drive, in Kingston; the cold storage in Freetown, Clarendon; and Caribbean Hatchery and the tunnel-ventilated Broiler House in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
Accompanying him were Minister of State, Hon J.C. Hutchinson, Chief Technical Director, Dr. Marc Panton and Agricultural Consultant, Dr. Derrick Deslandes.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter