Pig farmers move to save industry
In light of the deadly African swine fever, president of the Jamaica Pig Farmers Association (JFPA) Annabel Williams says the organisation has partnered with Hi-Pro and Nutrimix to make the pork industry self-sufficient.
"We get some pork from the US and it comes in sealed. Some come from Canada. But the problem is we have a particular disease that we are worried about (African swine fever). It can last up to 100 days," she said.
She told THE STAR that the disease can be transported whether the animal is dead or alive and has the potential to annihilate the local pork industry.
"It (the fever) can be transported in our semi-cooked meats such as our hams. If it arrives on the island, it is going to decimate the pork industry because we would have to kill all of our animals in order to get rid of the disease because there is no treatment. There is no vaccine, no nothing," she said.
Meanwhile, Williams said they have reached out to the agriculture ministry on several occasions for help, but they are yet to get a response.
"We are saying hold on a minute, let us not buy anything, let us not bring in any pork at all. Let us be self-sustainable, let us do our own pig production," she said. "There have been acknowledgments that they have received our letters but there has been no response in terms of a meeting or anything. He (the Agriculture Minister) needs to be supporting us; he needs to be letting us know what is happening and I just don't see any clarity there."
She said that a national pork council has been developed that will impact both small and large farmers. This council is set up to keep track of each person in the industry and to ensure all persons are alerted of any possible dangers to the industry.
"We want to put in an early warning system because there are times when pork is short and sometimes it is in abundance ... and that does not help the farmers and it will not help the consumers. So we need to regulate the industry more so we putting in a pig production early warning system which is going to be a comprehensive database which will give us a complete analysis of pork production in Jamaica," she said.