by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Local poultry producers occupy 14.5% of local market share
- National Poultry Policy boosted local investor confidence in the industry
- 2018 import bill for various poultry meats was $30,667,347
For several years, local poultry producers have occupied a 10% share of the poultry meats market. In 2018 this increase to 12%, but this year, increased production means local producers now occupy a 14.5% market share.
Chief Veterinary and Livestock Officer, Dr Kimond Cummings, stated that this increase resulted from the establishment of the National Poultry Policy in 2017, which boosted local investor confidence in the industry. “… because of the creation of such a document, [it] would have pulled so much investment, because farmers and investors would have realised that government is no longer just talking any more, but they are serious,” he said.
In spite of this, Grenada is far from meeting its domestic demand for poultry. According to data from the Central Statistical Office, the 2018 import bill for various poultry meats was $30,667,347.
Barbados and Jamaica took steps to ensure that imported meats do not flood the local market and put in place Tariff-Rate Quotas (TRQ) which ensures that anything below the quota comes in at 5% duty, but anything above comes in at between 184-286%. In the case of Trinidad and Tobago, there is a Common External Tariff of 40 %, with a 15% surcharge which is said to be insufficient.
In Grenada’s case, Dr Cummings said measures like these would be explored to safeguard the local industry with the help of David Reimer, President of the Caribbean Poultry Association, who is expected to visit Grenada in January to assist in establishing a reasonable common external tariff and bound rate for the importation of poultry.
Dr Cummings said the increase will not be as drastic as was done in other Caribbean islands, however, this will be among strategies to reduce the high importation of poultry and spur local production. “If you look at places like Barbados and Jamaica, they occupy like about 90/95% of the market and the importers have a quota. So if they fall within that the taxes are pretty reasonable.”
In Grenada’s case, an incremental increase would give farmers the confidence to continue producing. Dr Cummings said an increase in the tariff-rate must first be presented at the next meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2020.
While the poultry sector shows promise of growth, the National Poultry Policy created an imbalance in other subsectors of the livestock industry and created the need to establish a policy that will govern the entire livestock industry. Currently, Grenada’s livestock industry has no policy directions for meat production and has therefore contributed to the disparity in local production compared to the importation of meats, primarily poultry.
Livestock Officer within the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Nugent Bernard, believes that all subsectors within the livestock industry should be governed under one policy instead of having separate policies like the case of the poultry policy.
Bernard stated that the implementation of such a policy will eventually lead to a comprehensive survey to determine national meat consumption to assist in identifying the scale at which local livestock production must be increased. “We must know what our national meat consumption is; whether it is chicken, meat from goats, sheep or even beef…We have to conduct a survey to find out how much of what we have and if we realise that we don’t have enough in terms of the numbers to sustain our production, then it means therefore that we would have to put measures in place for us to increase production. So the fact that we don’t have a policy it will retard the growth of any progress. We cannot go forward meaningfully or sustainably without a policy,” he said.
Bernard outlined that with the importation of animal feed comes added health risk concerns since, in most exporting countries, the use of Hormone Growth Promotants and production enhancers raises the question of whether these meats are healthy to consume. Hormone Growth Promotants (HGPs) are slow-release implants that contain natural or synthetic hormones used to improve growth rates and feed efficiency in the cattle industry. “There are serious questions as to the way production is being done in bigger countries. In some cases, there are questions about the use of antibiotic use, there are questions of enhancers being used, so health-wise it poses a challenge for people, and if we grow locally and use the local grass that we have, then people would be more at ease,” Bernard said.
The Ministry of Agriculture, cognisant of this reality, acquired the expertise of a consultant to help draft a livestock policy that will guide the industry.
Dr Cummings said in 2020 government is to consult with various stakeholders in the development of such a policy. He said it is hoped that the draft document can be completed in time for Grenada to access funding from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). “We realised there was a need now to deal with the overall livestock industry. We decided that we’re going to address the said issue. We have engaged a consultant. He requested that we put together terms of reference to know what we need for the sector so that’s where we are in the process. Just a couple of days ago I engaged the said consultant again to find out where we are with the document. Presently because we hoping to capitalise on a little bit of funding from the 11th European Development Fund, however, these documents don’t just develop overnight because there are lots of consultations that have to go into it,” he said.
Dr Cummings is confident that local poultry producers can meet a target of acquiring a 40% share of the market which will be the goal set out in the policy document.