JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that beef production is slated for increased attention by the Ministry this financial year, with new initiatives being added to those already implemented for the dairy sector.
Dr. Tufton said the Ministry would be focussing on investing and marketing, technical support, abattoirs and traceability for food safety and health. The latter, he said, was particularly important to protect the industry from diseases, especially those that could be transferred to humans, such as the swine flu that is currently affecting some countries.
The Minister was addressing a dinner for delegates attending the 12th World Red Poll Cattle Congress, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, on Saturday (April 25).
The Minister pointed out that a traceability study commissioned last year was now complete, and that the results would be announced soon.
He said that to support the production of beef, and agricultural production in general, an agri-business investment unit would shortly be opened in the Ministry. “This comes out of a consolidation of the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) and the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC). It will provide marketing and investment support to drive increased beef production in Jamaica,” the Minister explained.
Dr. Tufton said small farmers would also be organised in clusters to better access technical support, and already a pilot project was being planned for Goshen, in St Elizabeth, to provide the technical support to help farmers to improve their stock, and to use a central facility for dairy production. “Talks are already advanced with investors to put the necessary expertise in place for this,” he announced.
The Minister added that cattle registration is to be implemented to support traceability and reduce praedial larceny. “Not just farms are to be registered, but cattle as well,” he noted.
The Minister argued that a forum like the World Red Poll Congress provided an excellent opportunity for exchange and cross fertilisation of ideas to help beef development for countries like Jamaica. He challenged the congress participants to engage on praedial larceny, optimum use of abattoirs for health, safety and traceability and to make recommendations for advancement, “in the interest of protecting the beef sector from the challenges and volatility of prices, external dependence and shocks.”
Dr. Tufton told the participants that Jamaica’s beef production levels had declined from 18,000 metric tonnes in 1992 to 5,000 metric tonnes in 2007 and the number of cattle farmers had declined from 10,900 in 1996 to 2,900 in 2007 .
He said that to restore growth in beef production, the Ministry was ready to undertake a united effort in light of the value of beef to the food chain and food security for the country.
President of the Caribbean Agri-business Association Keith Amiel, in his presentation said that, “the viability of future livestock enterprises would depend on them becoming vertically integrated entities, in which all elements from adaptive technology, through the use of better animals and better productive systems, would result in high yields and would be subjected to further processing into sought after value added products that would render cattle production sustainable.”
The two-week congress, which ends on May 2, will see some 150 local and international cattle breeders touring breeding and research facilities throughout the island, and discussing technological advancement, competitiveness, animal welfare, animal health and environmental concerns, as beef production sectors worldwide strive to remain viable.

Skip to content