Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, says the Ministry is currently conducting research on cassava, aimed at using the tuber as a partial substitute in the production of animal feeds.
Speaking at the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association (JPFA) annual general meeting at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, on September 27, Mr. Clarke informed that scientists at the Ministry's Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine have been experimenting with cassava, by using it to substitute for approximately 30 per cent of imported corn that is incorporated in animal feed production.
He indicated that the endeavour has yielded positive results in trials conducted so far, pointing out that the animals' development, when given the experimental feed, is "no different" compared to the composition comprising straight corn. In fact, he stressed that "the animals even perform a little better." He also pointed to other animal feed inputs being pursued.
"We are moving also into the cultivation of sorghum (plant used for grain or fodder). We have to crank our research capabilities to deal with what we have in Jamaica, because if we can produce some of the feeds, we can cut down on the cost," the Minister said.
Mr. Clarke said the Ministry is cognizant of the challenges facing Jamaica's livestock industry, particularly the pig sub-sector, and is committed to doing all it can to ensure its sustainability, particularly in the face of competition from imports. He cited the need for significant investments in the sub-sector, in order to position it competitively, particularly on the global market.
Noting that some stakeholders have committed to investing as much as $100 million on infrastructure development and other inputs, Mr. Clarke underscored that "if we want to really get into the export market, we must have investments in state-of-the-art facilities."
"The fact of the matter is that if we are to deal (effectively) with Jamaica's food security, then we have to do some unusual things. We are all in this thing together, and the Government has a commitment and the Ministry of Agriculture has a commitment to make sure that the industry survives," the Minister emphasised.