Jamaica in search of alternative feedstock
Government is exploring alternative feedstock as part of a programme aimed at combating volatile food prices, says Agriculture Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.
Tufton made the revelation as Jamaicans brace for higher food prices due to soaring cost of grains on the international market which is expected to impact the cost of feeds used in the production of diary, poultry, meats and eggs.
"Where we have to go is, to take a look at alternative feedstock - cassava, for example, that can be pelletised to make poultry feed and pig feed; different types of grass that can be used for beef or production cattle rearing and small remnants rearing," Tufton told the Business Observer.
"That's where we have to focus our attention in order to say, instead of requiring 'x' amount of grain, we can cut back and substitute it with other things," he explained.
Not enough land
Tufton ruled out directly replacing the imported grains with local produce, noting that Jamaica does not possess the critical mass needed to grow corn and soybean.
"The mass acreages that would be required is just not available to grow for commercial use - further processing for feedstock for example," stated Tufton, adding that "We'd have to grow corn on (land) the size of Jamaica to compete with those countries that grow the product...The challenge now becomes therefore whether we need to depend on corn so much for the basis of our feedstock."
The agriculture minister said that Government has been doing a lot over the last couple of years in this regards and has seen declines in the food import bill in terms of volumes.
He noted that the administration in 2011 will focus on a number of crop areas where the country can have direct replacements both in terms of production and in terms of storage or value-added promotion.
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