Jamaica’s poultry production hit an unlikely all-time high last month, averaging about three million kilogrammes of chicken per week, or 20 per cent above the corresponding period last year, with small farmers making a significant contribution to this accomplishment.
Vice-president of Hi-Pro, Jamaica Broilers Group Limited Jaimie Ogilvie, on Wednesday explained that this was especially remarkable in light of the closure of major businesses which were usually key markets for the poultry sector.
“In June, notwithstanding the reduction in consumption brought on by the various responses to COVID-19 (tourism – hotels/cruise/airlines, entertainment, school closures, food service), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries challenged the sector – both big and small producers – to increase production ahead of the new school year in September, in addition to ensuring that there was enough chicken available for Christmas. The island’s chicken farmers answered the call and pulled out all the stops, which has resulted in the production of chicken meat far exceeding pre-COVID levels,” he told a symbolic handover of baby chicks and broiler ration to the agriculture minister to distribute to small farmers.
The more than 100,000 small broiler farmers across Jamaica have consistently produced an estimated 30-40 per cent of the country’s chicken meat over the past five years, with 55 per cent being women. Colonel Ogilvie paid tribute to them.
“The handover today of the baby chicks and feed signals how important the small farmer broiler segment is to our growth and development. They are critical to Jamaica’s food security and offer quality home-grown chicken at competitive prices, while enhancing economic value chains in their communities.”