MOAF expands pricing research to livestock industry
THE Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining has expanded its commodity price reporting to the livestock industry, a move that not only allows the ministry to track and report the price at which meats are bought and sold but also serves as an early warning indicator of potential scarcity in the meats market.
The Agriculture Marketing Information and Incentives Branch (AMIIB) within the Ministry began weeekly collecting and reporting data on the prices of fruits and vegetables more than a decade ago. It recently expanded its scope to include the price of meats such as beef, oxtail, pork cuts, chicken parts, fish, rabbit, mutton and goat.
Director of Market Research Tayon Cruickshank told the Jamaica Observer that the data collected is collated according to the product’s origin, that is, whether it’s locally farmed or imported. The prices are then published based on meat type and the parish in which the meats can be purchased for consumption, for redistribution.
For example, the ministry published meat prices for the week ending December 23 across major supermarkets such as Mega Mart, Sampars, and Shoppers Fair in the Kingston Metropolitan Region. It also publishes farmgate or municipal market prices, along with wholesale on each product across the 14 parishes.
Data on commodity prices in Jamaica are typically posted on the Jamaica Agricultural Marketing Information System (JAMIS), a public service which provides weekly, unbiased, market information on over 50 agricultural produces. Currently, the website is being upgraded to include the prices of the new category of products along with the improvement of analytical tools.
“The updated JAMIS portal should be operational in 2024 and will include livestock prices, but in the interim we have developed a list of a little over 2,000 external customers that we send our data to on a weekly basis,” Cruickshank said.
Farmers across the island are one of the main consumers of the information published by the Ministry.
“If a farmer and you have a commodity but you are not sure of the price, you can contact us before you start negotiating with your buyers. We will give you data on the national price, the parish, and we even go further to give you the going rate on products for the extension area that you are in,” Cruickshank told the Sunday Finance.
The data from the Ministry is also heavily consumed by agro-processors and exporters.
“Some of our agro-processors purchase from the Coronation Market and other municipal markets. The JAMIS reports provide agro-processors with relevant pricing data which will allow them to make informed decisions,” he said.
Cruickshank said the ministry started collecting data on meat products during the pandemic based on demand for the information. Outside of the productive industry, the information is also shared with regulatory bodies such as the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, (STATIN), and the Bank of Jamaica to inform macro-economic planning and reporting. The data is also used by the Ministry to guide the development of policy in the agricultural sector as well as an indicator for when Government intervention may be needed.
“It is one of those early warning systems for the agricultural sector. If prices are climbing too high, then it could be an indication of scarcity in the market. The Ministry would then do an assessment of the situation to ascertain better what’s happening in the field, which then informs the recommendations for action. This is all done on a case by case basis,” Cruickshank said.
Still, consumers are not being left out of the pricing conversation. Cruickshank said that while consumers can also contact the ministry for data on fruits, vegetables and livestock prices, consumers and other stakeholders can look forward to the updated JAMIS portal as a more convenient option.
“We report on 20 supermarkets so a consumer will know where to go to get the best price. In our retail report we highlight the supermarkets that are selling a particular commodity at the lowest price and the one that is selling it at the highest price,” he said.