Pig farmer feeling jolly good about Christmas
Devon Gray, 61, has about 200 pigs on his farm in Claremont, St Ann. Gray says that unlike the last few years, there is an increasing demand for pork for Christmas 2020, so much so that many people may not have their orders met.
He says the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't put a strain on the pig industry.
"I do pig farming and butchering for a living, and my line of work nuh really get hold up. It's going on. Foodstuff must work for Christmas! So, I don't see a problem for Christmas. I can go to work 7 a.m. and go back home by 3 p.m., and all my customers still purchasing goods. People are still demanding pork and I have it to give them," Gray told THE STAR.
Christmas 2019, however, was a totally different ball game.
"I have 60 pigs ready right now. The young ones aren't ready ... they would bring it up to about 200. It wasn't good last year. In 2018 and 2019, pig wasn't going nowhere. But now, people a run fi dem and caah find dem. By March to April, the farm full, even if we are still affected by the pandemic," he added.
Reap the benefits
Gray says because of the low demand during the past few years, many farmers lost interest in pig rearing. However, he continued breeding and is now looking to reap the benefits.
"I can stop seeing a woman, but I can't stop rearing pig. There's a shortage because many farmers stopped. Pork is very short," he said.
Gray says the only problem he has encountered is the exorbitant price for the pig feed, but he is able to balance that out with the overwhelming demand from big companies.
Joyce Walker, another pig farmer from Gibraltar, St Ann, supplies pork to a smaller market. Her realities are different.
"It's hard, because you have to buy the feeding fi almost $1,800 fi di bag. If you raise pig fi a year and ready fi sell and dem (buyers) wah shortchange yuh, you are going to lose money. People want to come and buy from us, then sell them back and make all the money," she said.
Claudette, 76, also faces the issue of not losing much of her profit to middlemen, such as butchers who buy pigs from her and sell the meat to the retail trade.
"Me a do this long, long time and now me a old woman. It poor! This Christmas poor. We nah get nothing fi di hog dem. The money small. Yuh spend a million dollar pon dem and now when a time fi sell, you nah get back nothing. Dem wah buy dem fi likkle or nothing, and den sell dem expensive and get the benefit. We nah get anything," she lamented.
"Yuh go a market and a $300 to $400 fi pork, and when dem come in come buy, dem wah give yuh $160 to $200 fi a pound when dem a buy. It caa work! We caa go less than $250. But because yuh hungry fi di Christmas, yuh affi agree because nuh better nuh deh."