MINISTER of Agriculture and Fisheries Robert Montague announced plans to forge a partnership with the Jamaica Egg Farmers Association (JEFA) geared towards the expansion of the local egg industry.
This is an example of a product we can produce in Jamaica competitively and comparatively against international standards, and the Ministry of Agriculture will be doing as much to encourage and to partner to work with the egg farmers association to expand this egg output," said Montaque.
The minister was speaking on Monday during a tour of warehouses of the Mark Hart-controlled Caribbean Producers Jamaica (CPJ) in the Montego Freeport. During the excursion, Montaque, his entourage and members of the media among other things, got a first-hand view of operations at the Caribbean Egg Process Limited, a subsidiary of CPJ and JEFA, which processes pasteurised eggs to supply international hotel chains.
Montaque argued that the Caribbean Egg Process Limited, which processes an average of 3,000 to 4,000 dozen eggs per day, intends to introduce the pasteurised product to the local retail market.
This will drive a strong demand for the supply of local eggs as Caribbean Egg Process Limited has no intention of turning to the import market to satisfy the expected egg demand, he said.
"As with many of our agricultural products we don't have the production to give us the true push. They (Caribbean Egg Process Limited) would like to go in the retail part of the business (but) they can't because there is not enough eggs. And we will be pushing the eggs," argued Montaque. "We can increase egg production in Jamaica. They have a commitment, they don't want to import eggs into Jamaica, they want to utilise local eggs".
Meanwhile, Hart argued that he would like to see far more use of the pasteurised product in the local hospitality sector "because it is convenient and it is safe".
"They have had outbreaks in the past in several resort areas and with our product there is no chance of that happening," he noted.
Hart disclosed that five years ago CPJ, in partnership with JEFA, made a significant investment of over US$1million (J$85 million at today's rates) to form Caribbean Egg Process Limited.
"That allows us to buy from the local shell egg producers and bring them and process them to fulfil that demand requirement," Hart said.