Agriculture Ministry plans to increase production of meats, root crops in 2024

Pork, poultry and root crops have been targeted for increased local production by the end of 2024 (Photo courtesy
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By Charminae George

[email protected]

The agriculture sector is set to increase local production of pork, poultry, and root crops by the end of 2024, according to Minister of Agriculture Chet Greene.

During the budget debate in Parliament on Tuesday, Greene stated that most of the pork consumed locally is imported, while only six percent (EC$1 million) of the $15 million market value is produced locally, and that the goal is to increase local meat production from six to 15 percent.

Therefore, Greene explained that the Central Marketing Corporation (CMC) – the government entity that aims to help local farmers market and sell their produce – will move towards sourcing a greater percentage of meat from local producers.

“From the year 2024, working in tandem with local farmers, we will insist that a minimum of 33 percent of all pork and beef at CMC are from local farm production,” he stated.

Greene also pointed out that while local egg production accounts for most of the eggs consumed in the country, the local poultry production is dismally far from that.

“The poultry market in 2022 was $53 million of which our production was only $1.6 million, meaning that we imported $52 million worth of chicken and chicken parts in Antigua,” he said.

“We want to move the needle from a simple 3.071 percent of local production to not less than 10 percent by the end of 2024,” he added.

He also indicated that tubers, including cassava and sweet potatoes, in addition to other root crops such as onions and carrots, have also been targeted for an increase in local production.

With the market value of root and tuber crops totalling $11.6 million and only $2.7 million being produced locally (23.2 percent), Greene indicated that he aims to increase production to 30 percent by the end of next year.

Supporting this target goal, Prime Minister Gaston Browne also commented on the need to increase local production of the crops.

“We are of the view that if our people eat closer to the ground … going back to some of those unprocessed foods, we would be a healthier people,” he said.

Another targeted area of production is beverage and spice crops which has a market value of $7 million, with $1.9 million (27 percent) of it produced locally. Greene said the target goal is to increase local production to 30 percent.

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