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JIS News

Key players in the island’s poultry industry met at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston this morning (May 18) to deliberate on matters prudent to the protection of the industry in the event of an outbreak of the Avian Influenza (bird flu) virus.
Bird flu is affecting poultry, humans and wild birds in Asia, Europe and Africa, with some 103 persons having died from the infection since March.
The meeting, which was convened by the Jamaican Society for Agricultural Sciences in collaboration with the Caribbean Broilers Group and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, centered on the national and regional response to safeguarding the poultry industry.
Chief Technical Director in the Land and Agriculture Ministry, Don McGlashan, said the matter was a “potential area for national concern,” given the importance of the industry to food security.
“The industry provides the mainstay of the national diet and is one of the key players in the journey towards food security.with 101.1 kilograms of poultry meat produced in 2005 and per capita broiler meat consumption standing at more than 42 kilograms in the past year,” he stated.
In providing an update on the major preparedness activities undertaken by the Ministry to date, the Chief Technical Director assured that food safety strategies remained high on the agenda.
In keeping with the World Health Organization’s mandate for all countries to strengthen their surveillance systems, laboratory diagnostic services and emergency preparedness procedures, Jamaica has placed restrictions on the importation of pet birds, ducks, geese, swans and other aquatic birds, as well as poultry and poultry products.
Efforts have also been made to improve field surveillance activities with the veterinary services division working with field and local veterinarians, public health officers, extension officers and poultry producers to improve vigilance in monitoring poultry production and processing facilities. This in addition to the purchase of diagnostic emergency field equipment and increased public awareness activities.
Mr. McGlashan noted that safeguards were important to protect the industry, which had annual earnings of $15 billion for broiler meat, with about 40 per cent of locally produced broiler meat being supplied by an estimated 10,000 small farmers.
Additionally, some 3,000 individuals are employed by the table egg industry, with the export egg trade showing sales of $1.2 million to Trinidad and Tobago alone.