Poultry producers in Jamaica have exceeded the call from the Government to ramp up the production of chicken to meet increasing local demand since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, according to Colonel Jaimie Ogilvie, vice-president of the Hi-Pro Division of the Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG), since last month the island’s poultry farmers have been producing up to three million kilogrammes per week, or 20 per cent above levels in the corresponding period last year, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
He made the announcement during the handover of 20,000 baby chicks and 1,000 bags of feed to the Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries Floyd Green last Wednesday, December 16, at the JBG’s corporate offices, McCook’s Pen, St. Catherine.
Over 100,000 small chicken farmers — 55 per cent of whom are women — have produced between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of all chicken meat annually over the last five years, the JBG vice-president also shared, adding: “They are critical to Jamaica’s food security and offer quality home-grown chickens at competitive prices, while enhancing economic value chains in their communities.”
With a value of JM$4.2 million, the donation from JBG subsidiaries Hi Pro and Best Dressed Chicken will serve to assist small farmers across the country recover from the devastation of persistent flood rains in October and November.
In accepting the donations, the Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Floyd Green noted that JBG has always been among the first to volunteer assistance to the nation’s farmers in times of need and thanked the group for its continued support of the agricultural sector.
In April this year, in immediate response to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in Jamaica, Hi-Pro contributed 400,000 baby chicks valued at JM$44 million; as well as seeds, fertilizers, chemicals and animal feeds at a cost of JM$25 million to local small farmers, under Hi-Pro’s #Growstrong initiative. That distribution was a collaboration with Rural Agricultural Development Agency, Jamaica Agricultural Society, Jamaica Pig Farmers Association, Jamaica Egg Farmers Association, Jamaica Dairy Development Baord, the 4H Club movement and farm store operators across Jamaica.
In the meantime, Ogilvie said while the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries has begun the process of reviewing the island’s import regime of chicken products, it should be with a view to delivering greater transparency, removing opportunities for corruption, and promoting the viability of local production.
This, he argued, would be in the interest of national food security, while providing the opportunity to achieve the desired overall reduction in the island’s food import bill and earning opportunities for thousands of Jamaicans and their families, especially with the loss of jobs during Covid-19.