Speech by the Hon. Derrick Kellier, CD, MP - Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

All-Island Small Farmer Poultry Project

January 27, 2016

RADA St Andrew Parish Office


I am very pleased to be participating in this launch today. It is another very important step in this Ministry’s drive to pursue our commitment to the goals of food security for the people of Jamaica, even as we continue to ensure that agriculture remains a strong pillar of the economy.

It is this commitment to our mission to grow, expand and modernise the industry that has fuelled our every move and our very deliberate strategies to make the sector strong and sustainable.

And those deliberate strategies have, in fact over the last four years or so, been bearing good fruit as evidenced in the achievements in a number of areas; we have, for example,

  • Established nine agro-parks - providing employment for some 1,428 farmers and other workers, while having harvested over 3.3 million kgs of produce, including onions, peppers, vegetables, potatoes, yams, melons, pineapples and other crops to date.
  • Invested close to $2billion in providing new irrigation systems in agro-parks and other farming areas
  • Spent over $6Billion under the Sugar Transformation programme to provide and/or upgrade houses, schools, libraries, clinics, sports facilities, roads, water supply systems and other community infrastructure in sugar cane-producing and dependent areas
  • Invested over $216 million in the revitalisation of the banana industry and thereby facilitating the resumption of the export trade to the United Kingdom; and we expect to spend another $400 million over the next two years;
  • Invested over $3.4billion in mitigation and  adaptation programmes to provide short, medium and long-term solutions to the emerging challenges of climate change
  • Introduced and supported new industries such as new sweet potato varieties and the commercial use of cassava
  • Achieved self-sufficiency in table Irish Potato and are now embarked on a similar programme for the production of onions

We have done this in the interest  of our economy and to ensure that sufficient quantities of nutritious food of appropriate quality are available to all people in Jamaica, through increased domestic production and a sustainable level of imports

I think it would be fair to say that sometimes it does appear that developments relating to the crops sector of the industry tend to overshadow the work being done in the fisheries and livestock sector to include small ruminants, dairy and beef cattle as well as the poultry sector.

But in fact, over the last four years, the Ministry has indeed led the way in expanding the livestock sector; we have, for example,

  • Launched the National Animal Identification and Traceability System to enhance the traceability of cattle and improve animal health
  • We have established a Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit and programme within the Ministry and have been working along with the security forces and the judiciary to make a serious dent in the scourge  of farm theft and praedial larceny

We have also …

  • continued to advance the implementation of our national Food Safety systems
  • We have completed the Amendments to the Fisheries Act and advanced the drafting of the new Fisheries Bill and have promulgated the Food Safety Policy and the Animal and Plant Health Policies.
  •  And, we have also embarked on the further development and expansion of our cattle and small ruminants sectors, utilising artificial insemination and embryo transfer for the rapid development and multiplication of livestock.The fact of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen that our country does enjoy a  wealth of knowledge and the capacity to have developed our own livestock industry to what is internationally recognised as first-world standards.

We have a long and well established tradition in cattle breeding, dating back to the pioneering days of Dr Thomas P. Lecky and, except for brief periods of shortages have pretty much attained high levels of self-sufficiency in pork and poultry meat as well as table eggs.

The fact of the matter, too, is that the broiler industry in Jamaica boasts a proud history which had its genesis in our back yard gardens.  Over the years, we have moved from the dominance of backyard type poultry operations to commercial sized operations which have provided approximately 70% of the poultry meat consumed locally.   The major players such as Jamaica Broilers and Caribbean Broilers have helped to bring Jamaica to competitive standards internationally and, in combination with our backyard producers, this country was able to increase production from a total of 104,502,533kg in 2010 to 112,384,035kg in 2015, the highest level production ever achieved.

In addition to the big commercial operations, backyard chicken production continues to be a major revenue generating activity for a number of Jamaicans.  It serves a dual purpose as it not only generates revenue, but is a source of protein for these small producers.  Their efforts, therefore, need to be encouraged and supported because, collectively, they play a significant role in the reduction of the import of poultry and poultry products.

Poultry meat is the number one consumed meat in Jamaica and is a shared market by both commercial and backyard farmers. These small farmers have invested heavily in these operations and the Ministry, through its extension services, has ensured that the farmers have the available resources and training to be successful.   

Livestock Development Programme
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Livestock Development Programme is therefore geared towards assisting poultry and small ruminant farmers to achieve improved levels of productivity and profit.

At an estimated cost of $42.9M the Programme will provide training and capacity building of famers in new and improved technologies in poultry production that can be adapted to the Jamaican small farmer context.
The issues of market identification and market intelligence are, for example, crucial ingredients in ensuring the sustainability and continued growth of the sector.

As we may all recall, in 2013 the USA introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act to ensure production practices that make the food produced safe for consumption.  As part of our local response to meet these international safety standards, farmers across Jamaica have been sensitized to the FSMA and from this a record book for broiler farmers was developed.  This book will allow farmers to properly document their activities to make the necessary management decisions in keeping their flock healthy and securing their investment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is working together, with our small farmers to improve farming practices. Ultimately, what we launch today is intended to continue to strengthen and include the work of our small poultry farmers across the island so that the industry will benefit from increased production, thus satisfying the demand and reducing the food import bill for meat.

Let us all continue to support our farmers, as we eat what we grow.