JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is reporting a revival of the beef industry, with prices trending upwards.
Deputy Research Director in the Ministry, Jasmin Holness, told JIS News that the increase in the price for beef has boosted the earnings of farmers.
“We now see an upturn. there is a revival in the dairy sector, prices have gone up . there is almost equality between the cost of production and what the farmer is earning at the farm gate. There has been an obvious increase in the price of cattle in the beef sector,” she told JIS News.
The Research Director said however, that the increase in the price of beef has attracted the interest of praedial larcenists, and farmers have been loosing their prized animals. She noted that the national passport system developed by the Ministry should help to address the problem.
The programme was implemented as a pilot last September. “We are now at a stage where we are analysing the results. Of the 5,000 animals that were slated to be tagged, we tagged a little over 3,000 because one of the large farms did not want to participate. We are still trying to get them to participate but that pilot has already been done and so we are now able to look at future costing and what not to do for a national programme,” Ms. Holness told JIS News.
She noted that within the next five years, it would become mandatory for all farmers to have their animals tagged and registered under some formal system, which would provide for security, disease surveillance and easy identification.
“As part of the world trade system, food, food safety and health of a nation, is most important and there must be traceability and one can only trace when you can go from the source to where the consumer picks it [beef] up,” she argued.
She further pointed to the need for community members to look out for each other in order to stem the tide of praedial larceny.
Additionally she warned consumers not to purchase beef from unauthorized butchers. “Not because the meat is cheap you should buy it. You don’t know what state of health the animal has been in, maybe it was just treated on the farm, maybe it was just sprayed; why would you want to buy meat from an unauthorized butcher?” she questioned.
Meanwhile, Ms. Holness said the Ministry was looking to increase the country’s beef stock, which was just under 50 per cent.
She noted that research was being conducted at the Bodles Research Centre on genetic improvements, selection and breeding programmes, husbandry and cross breeding of the Jamaica black beef breed.

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