Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the local agriculture sector grew by 7.9 per cent in 2021.
Portfolio minister, Pearnel Charles Jr, said this is a reflection of the hard work by stakeholders and has provided stability in a market still suffering from the residual effects of lockdowns and closures in the hotel and restaurant industries.
“The sector has been able to maintain steady production levels, and for 2020/2021, we have recorded the highest level of production for domestic crop yields, surpassing 700,000 tonnes for the first time in Jamaica’s history,” the minister said.
He was speaking in the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 17.
He shared that the production of domestic crops increased significantly from 697,679 tonnes in 2020 to 770,456 tonnes in 2021, reflecting a growth of 10.4 per cent over that period.
“I must commend and thank our farmers for their tremendous efforts and resilience in achieving these record levels of production and persevering even in these adverse and unprecedented conditions,” Charles Jr said.
He said the livestock sector has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic over the last year with concerns of shortages and increased prices.
“But I am pleased to report that chicken meat production is on the rise. Chicken meat production rebounded from a decline in 2020 and production moved from 123,636 kilogrammes to 124,904 kilogrammes in 2021,” said the minister. He added that production levels have been further augmented by initiatives taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in collaboration with industry stakeholders, under the ‘Buy Back Programme’ which has further increased the local demand for eggs.
“The country is therefore guaranteed a consistent supply of eggs as production remains at historically high levels,” he said.