#KINGSTON, April 1 (JIS): The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is assuring that there is no shortage of local agricultural produce to supply the domestic market.
Speaking at a digital press briefing on Tuesday (March 31), Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, said there are adequate supplies of meat, eggs, and fresh food, including vegetables, fruits and tubers.
“Our farmers are on the job. They have not stopped working and [as such] there are plentiful supplies,” he said.
Mr. Hutchinson informed that egg production is approximately 22 per cent higher over last year, noting that the country is averaging approximately 15 million eggs per month, which is adequate to supply normal demand.
He said this level of production is expected to be maintained until the end of May.
Additionally, Mr. Hutchinson said consultations with pig industry stakeholders indicate that there are adequate supplies of pork in the marketplace and sufficient animals in the system for slaughter for the next few months, pointing out that “this will be adequate to meet normal demand for this product”.
He further said chicken meat production will average approximately 2.7 million kilogrammes per week for the next nine weeks, up to early May 2020.
“At this time, the industry is not seeing any immediate factors that will cause any significant disruption in its capacity to continue production beyond this point or to prevent the conversion of the chickens now in the field and being hatched in the next three weeks from being processed,” he said.
The Minister informed that chicken represents approximately 80 per cent of the ratio meat protein supplied to and consumed by local consumers.
Mr. Hutchinson said efforts will be made to reduce issues of bottlenecks and disruption in distribution if and when these arise.
He added that the Ministry is working with the private sector to rationalise and manage excess production of meats and eggs to ensure continued support to local industries and increased demand and movement of these products.
Mr. Hutchinson advised that the Ministry is working with stakeholders in the various value chains to ensure that food supplies are maintained and inventories are being monitored.
Additionally, he informed that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has conducted an assessment of the country’s supply of selected critical agricultural produce and is reporting that, by all indications, vegetables, condiments, fruits, roots and tubers are and will be in normal supply.
“Vegetable production remains in good supply, with the exception of the exotics (broccoli and cauliflower) and coloured bell peppers. Vegetables will remain in good supply for the period March to May.
“Fruits available are cantaloupe, melon, papaya, pineapple, banana, plantain, Otaheite apple, star apple and mango. Fruits will be in their usual abundance for the reporting period of March to May,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hutchinson is urging Jamaicans to utilise local produce and products that are available and may end up being in excess supply.
“RADA is also encouraging the public to consume these produces to boost the immune system against the COVID-19 virus and to reduce food loss and waste at this time when essential vitamins and nutrients are needed to guard against COVID-19,” he said.
JIS News by CHRIS PATTERSON