Protection of the local poultry industry may soon come on line.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Poultry Association, Josh Lewis has announced that efforts are being made to get a Poultry Policy passed within the next two months.
Lewis who was speaking on a programme produced by Civil Society said one of the key recommendations of the policy is that there should be a local market share for the local producers although it is yet to be set.
However, he said it is being recommended that the local market share should be 40 percent, and it should be implemented in stages.
Lewis said once that happens the major importers of chicken will be obligated to purchase a percentage of poultry meat from local farmers.
He is confident that this will create reliability, sustainability, and jobs, and enable farmers to receive funding from the financial institutions to develop the poultry industry in the rural areas.
It is hoped that there will be a centralised processing depot that will go along with the other processing centres.
However, the Poultry Association CEO said he has not seen anything in the 2017 budget that gives support to the poultry industry.
He reiterated that poultry makes up ten percent of the total food import bill, but year after year there is no budget for the poultry sector.
“When I look at the budget it seems that overall agriculture budget has been reduced… but unfortunately there wasn’t any funding that was made available in terms of the poultry industry as a whole from the budget,” he said.
“In terms of money, cash incentives… I didn’t see anything (in the budget),” he added.
However, Lewis referred to a World Bank funded project in the making, which he said is potentially very beneficial to the poultry industry.
He spoke of government having negotiated a $4M budget with the World Bank, which will link agriculture with tourism.
Lewis is confident that once there is the political will to link the two main pillars in the Grenadian economy, it can become beneficial to the country as up to about 70 percent of the food consumed is imported.
“If we can do something about producing the food that the hotelier needs, I think that potential will be very useful,” he said.
Lewis also believes that the school-feeding programme should use local poultry for the estimated ten thousand students.
He said the association is there to help implement policies that can reduce spending of the tax dollars to purchase imported poultry.
According to The Poultry Association CEO, he is also in discussion with the World Bank to get funding for a poultry project.
Although nothing has been finalised, Lewis said they have tentatively agreed on a project to have 60 to 80 farmers growing no less than three thousand birds every six weeks with a view towards getting a consortium to purchase the chickens.
He believes if the project materialises, it will result in a big boost for the rural economy by creating about four to five hundred jobs.
Lewis said it is their desire to create resilience and sustainable employment for the farmers rather than leaving them exposed to natural disasters whereby they have to seek financial assistance from government.
He sees Information Technology (IT) as a great asset in boosting the industry.
Lewis said IT will assist in providing knowledge of where all the birds are being produced, along with their buyers and sellers.
“We’re hoping that the injection of technology will help with the record-keeping,” he added.
The Poultry Association CEO also addressed the price of feed on the local market.
He spoke of the local price being, on average, 25 percent higher than in other countries of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States).
Lewis said government has subsidised Caribbean Agro Industries, which manufactures the feed by about $25M over the years.
“What we’ve been seeing is that the subsidy that government has given them (Caribbean Agro), is being used for others rather than Grenadian Farmers,” he said.