October 10, 2016

Pig farmers commended for improvements in industry

Published in The Jamaica Observer

Chief technical director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Stephen Wedderburn (centre), shares a light moment with Jamaica Pig Farmers Association President Hanif Brown (left), and vice-president of marketing and agricultural supplies of the Hi-Pro division of the Jamaica Broilers Group, Conley Salmon.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda is commending the country’s pig farmers for the strides being made in the industry, which have seen the country gain self-sufficiency in the production of pork, while reducing imports of meat.

He noted that the output of pork has grown by 22 per cent, moving from 6.3 million kilograms in 2003 to 7.7 million kg in 2015, with production peaking at 9.5 million kg in 2012.

Samuda, in a speech read by chief technical director in the ministry, Stephen Wedderburn at the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association’s (JPFA) 14th annual general meeting held recently at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, also hailed the introduction of improved genetic stock such as Landrace, Duroc and large, white species of pigs.

He said primary cuts from these animals have resolved issues affecting the hospitality sector and agro-processing industry such as the back-fat to lean ratio; spare rib lean to bone ratio; pork loin, pork tenderloin and baby back rib size; and the quality of the legs and shoulders for the production of leg and picnic hams.

Samuda noted that primary producers, butchers and processors have benefited from the genetic improvements, as the average slaughter weight of the animals has moved from 60kg in 2006 to 76kg in 2015, representing a 27 per cent increase over the period.

He said local farmers supply 100 per cent of fresh shoulders and legs for the manufacturing of picnic and leg hams, respectively, eliminating the need for imports.

He noted further that the primary cuts of ribs, tenderloin, loin, legs and shoulders, have been produced in sufficient quantities to satisfy local demand over the last four years.

Total imports of pork products have declined consistently, from 3.16 million kg in 2011 to 1.79 million kg in 2015. The value of these imports over the same period fell from US$9.07 million to US$5.5 million, representing a 40 per cent reduction.

The minister, in the meantime, urged the JPFA to do more to address the cycle of glut and short supply in the market that occurs from time to time.

He said the period of glut provides an opportunity for market expansion, processing and value-added.

He said there is also need to improve consistency of supply for the export market and for producers to look to regional markets, such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba, which enjoy and consume more pork than Jamaica.

For his part, president of the JPFA Hanif Brown said the entity would continue to collaborate with the ministry to stem the imports of pork and pork products.

He said dialogue will be undertaken with producers to find markets for pork.

The JPFA will also be seeking to ensure that its presence at next year’s Denbigh Agricultural Industrial and Food Show is more profitable.

Pig-rearing is an income-generating activity for 5,670 farmers and provides related employment of approximately 18,000 persons or 1.3 per cent of the workforce.

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