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Minister Hutchinson calls for large-scale investment in small ruminant production


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May 2018
 
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Above Body

 11 May 2018    communications   

Noting that of the 3.27 million kg of goat and sheep meat consumed in 2016 only 30% was supplied locally, the Hon J. C. Hutchinson, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, is calling for more large-scale investment in the small ruminant sub-sector, which has a significant opportunity for growth for primary and value-added products.
“By and large, small ruminant farmers have been primarily small farmers rearing between 100 and 500 animals and many even below that,” said Minister Hutchinson. This, he said, limits the scope of production.
The Minister urged the small ruminant farmers to consider the mother and satellite farm concept currently being used by the poultry industry, which will lead to increased herd sizes, consistency of inputs as well as expansion into agro-processing.
While noting that there was a positive trend in local production compared to 2006 when only 11% of the meat consumed was produced locally, Minister Hutchinson called for increased production, stating that Jamaicans are eating less goat and sheep meat as data showed that consumption moved from 6.8 million kg in 2006 to 3.2 million kg in 2016.
Minister Hutchinson was speaking at the 21st Annual General Meeting of the Small Ruminants Association at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour on May 10, where he commended the farmers for their commitment to the sector amidst the challenges that they face such as praedial larceny and lack of land tenure.
In calling for stronger measures to be implemented to deter praedial thieves, Minister Hutchinson is proposing that restitution be given to victims who lose any type of crops or animals for the amount equal to the value of the agricultural crops or animals including any interest incurred.
Minister Hutchinson also said that Government will be providing 100 acres of land for lease to young farmers to address the challenges been faced in accessing lands for farming. These lands, he said, will be allocated to farmers identified by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.
This is in addition to the 10,500 hectares of former sugar lands in Clarendon and St. Catherine which will be available for lease to farmers for production of non-sugar crops and livestock. He stated that these lands could be used in the cultivation and production of forages to supply feed to the small ruminant sub-sector and thereby cut the high import cost for processed feed.
“We want to make sure that whatever Government lands are available they are put into full production,” said Minister Hutchinson, who encouraged persons who are on lands to “farm it or lose it”.
Other initiatives been implemented by the Government include conservation and multiplication of genetics of the small ruminants’ population at Hounslow Demonstration and Training Centre in St. Elizabeth where for the period 2016 to date some 319 breeding stock has been distributed to farmers.
In addition, over 9,000 improved forage plants were distributed to farmers.
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