Pork for sale! Xmas ham demand fails to ease glut
THE country’s pig farmers’ hope that a bumper Christmas season and the traditional demand for cured ham might ease the glut that has been affecting the market since August may have been dashed.
The pig farmers were anticipating a spike in the demand for pork and were actually hoping for an increase in the price of the product which has fallen sharply over the last several months as a result of the oversupply. According to Angella Bardowell, the president of the Jamaica Pig Farmers’ Association, farmers in Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, Manchester and St Catherine are among the worst affected by the unavailability of markets for their produce.
“There are still a number of farmers out there who have animals that they are unable to get rid of. The prices have not improved so the expected bounce that would have happened over the Christmas season is not really there,” said Bardowell.
She added that farmers in the western end of the country who were awaiting the opening of a multimillion-dollar pork-processing facility will have to wait a bit longer, as the plant which was slated to be opened last month, is now being prepared for a February or March opening.
“That is when we are expecting to see some improvement, although some improvement could also come by the end of January going into February,” said Bardowell.
The $200-million state-of-the-art abattoir now under construction at Sweet River, Westmoreland, will be able to process 250 pigs per day, with an expected output of about 4.6 million kilogrammes of pork per year.
Three months ago, Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke issued an appeal to Jamaicans to consume more pork in a bid to rescue hundreds of pig farmers who were reportedly struggling to find markets for their meat.
The appeal came as the pig farmers called on the Government to place a ban on the importation of pork products, as they believe such a move would result in them being able to find local markets for their produce.
In early October, the farmers complained that after being encouraged by Government to go into pork production, they are now unable to identify a ready local market.
The farmers also complained that the glut had resulted in a decline in the price of pork at a time when electricity costs and feed prices were spiralling out of control