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Agriculture sector bouncing back after Hurricane Earl

Prime Minister Barrow said the Agriculture sector is recovering from the damages sustained during Hurricane Earl.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We see that the recovery has been steady and confidence in the sector high. Our officials have been busy securing market access to CARICOM for poultry, beef and direct consumption sugars. Arrangements for duty free export of live cattle to Guatemala have been completed and the first transfer under the program took place in February of this year.

Last month Western Dairies marked its 50th anniversary, celebrating impressive growth in a non-traditional industry and having recorded two export cycles of ice cream to Grenada.

Earlier, in January, Quality Poultry Products from Spanish Lookout obtained HACCP certification for their production facility. This was followed by a similar accomplishment in May for Caribbean Chicken of Blue Creek. And these certifications now clear the way for both facilities to export to CARICOM.

In Aquaculture there is still a problem with the Early Mortality Syndrome that has been plaguing our shrimp industry since 2015. Efforts therefore continue at genetic improvement, biological control and enhanced management practices to combat the scourge. Balancing the Aquaculture picture somewhat, though, has been the success in Tilapia production and export. Fein Catch, the successor entity to Fresh Catch, has turned things around in just three short years. They are now selling to Walmart in both Mexico and Guatemala; are increasing the number of their ponds by 31 to make for a grand total of 122; and will produce around 6 million pounds of live fish over the next 12 months.

The Banana Industry recovery from last year’s hurricane is also on track. There are, though, certification problems with a few farms, and the non-implementation of the required dredging to improve access at the Big Creek Port is also an issue. Both difficulties are soluble, however, and the longer term prospects remain good.

One final note in this area concerns the processed meats sub-sector, and the great strides the Running W enterprise has been making. Their plan is to build on the limited market penetration into El Salvador and Guatemala, which their efforts and investments have already secured. A potential joint venture with the new owners of Valley of Peace Farms would see the expansion of Running W exports to Central America as only a first step. This is because the parent company of VOP Farms is the fourteenth largest producer of pork in the US and controls 10% of the meatpacking sector there.”