Efforts on to ramp up pork production


THE Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) is set to launch an initiative in the New Year that is aimed towards boosting pork production in this country.
Chief Executive Officer of the BAS, James Paul, has told The Barbados Advocate that over the last few years the sector has been doing relatively well, but there is still room for improvement, and now that the Ministry of Agriculture has informed the sector that it is suspending the Gilt Replacement Programme, steps have to be taken to ensure the sector’s viability. His comments came as he explained that through the Gilt Replacement Programme, farmers received a $500 incentive for every gilt that was held back.
“The function of the Gilt Replacement Programme was to encourage farmers to keep their top gilt rather than sending them to market. Gilts are potential mothers among pigs, they are unbred female pigs. What has been happening is that sometimes because of the pressure of the demand on the market we have found farmers sending a greater number of gilts to slaughter,” he said.
Paul added, “In a herd you must try to retain at least two or three gilts. If you don’t do that over a period of a time, a problem will develop where you will have a shortage of productive mothers needed to replenish the herd with young piglets. If that happens, it will have an impact on your overall production and result in a shortage in the market.”
With the programme now being suspended, Paul said it might mean that more gilts could be sent to market. Given that possibility, he is making a special appeal to farmers to retain a percentage of those gilts for future breeding, to ensure the longevity of the local pork market. He is adamant that any blow to the sector would be unfortunate.
He made the point as he said that the pig farmers have been having a good year and with the Christmas season approaching, that demand is expected to increase. He is however hopeful that they do not see a repeat of the past with more gilts going to market during this period in order to meet the demand. (JRT)


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