The Government is collaborating with the island’s two main chicken producers to satisfy the heightened demand for chicken meat and to ensure that there is no increase in price for the product.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said that Jamaica Broilers, which produces the Best Dressed Chicken brand, has agreed to place an additional 50,000 chickens per week into production, starting this week. These will come into the market in six weeks.
“The Ministry is also to consult with Caribbean Broilers with a view to increasing production to meet a similar target,” he said, while addressing the official opening of the Best Dressed Chicken Cumberland hatchery in Portmore, St. Catherine, today (January 12).
Additionally, he informed that the Ministry will grant an import licence for four containers of leg quarters per week, for five weeks.
Also, Mr. Kellier said the Ministry will be continuously monitoring demand to ensure that production levels match demand going forward.
The Agriculture Minister noted that these “immediate measures” followed consultations with Ministry personnel and industry partners and stakeholders.
Regarding the importation of leg quarters, he informed that these will be sourced from the United States and Canada, and only from areas that have been declared bird flu-free.
The Minister contended that the increased demand for poultry meat is an indication that the country’s economy is becoming stronger.
“We welcome the increased demand as a pull factor that will spur even greater investment and greater production in the poultry industry,” he said.
Minister Kellier, in the meantime, commended Jamaica Broilers for opening the Portmore hatchery and for plans to spend some $700 million in establishing more poultry houses.
“The launch of this new hatchery could not have come at a better time, given the recent increased demand for more chicken meat, which spiked during the recent holiday period and led to a temporary shortage in terms of supplying these demands,” he pointed out.
He said that the opening of the hatchery is in direct congruence with the Government’s policy for import substitution and local production, which is being championed under the theme: ‘Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow.’
In 2015, Jamaica produced just over 112 million kilograms of chicken meat, an increase of 55 per cent over the 72 million kilograms produced in 2003.
The Cumberland Hatchery has capacity for 625,000 chicks monthly and 7.5 million chicks annually.
With a staff complement of 22, the size of the $14 million hatchery is approximately 25,000 square feet. The facility contributes 15 per cent of the company’s overall chick production.
By Chris Patterson