KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 21, IWN — Cabinet on Tuesday approved recommendations from the Ministry of Agriculture to govern the export of cattle from this country.
Earlier this year, 87 heads of cattle were exported Grenada.
And, this week, there was demand for a further 100 heads.
Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, said on radio on Wednesday that there is an emerging market for cattle in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, even as consumption of beef has fallen significantly in SVG over the past 10 years.
“… something is happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to the extent that we can export [cattle]. We, however, have to do everything in a very scientific manner and the Chief Veterinary Officer, they have drafted several recommendations, which were tabled at Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday), which will soon become part of the national policy for cattle production,” Caesar said.
He noted some citizens’ concerns that export could lead to a scarcity of the red meat on the local market.
“But it is always in the interest of any country which has a significant part of its developmental programme focusing on agriculture, for us not only to look on the issue of local consumption and imports but we also have to focus on the potential and our capacity to export,” he said.
The recommendations Cabinet approved are:
- A quota of no more than 100 heads of cattle are to be selected for export per year from 2014;
- The production and slaughter figures must be reviewed annually to ascertain the export quota;
- Restrictions should be placed on the export of males younger than two years of age;
- Only males that are of low genetic potency or have reproductive or production issues will be available for export;
- No productive female of breeding age should be exported;
- Females to be sold should be those out of production or have reproductive or productive issues.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, particularly the Veterinary Unit, will be working very closely with target farmers so that we can start focusing on some farmers who will producing cattle for the export market,” Caesar said.
He said the Ministry is trying to maximise its capacity to export and will work with friendly countries to get requisite technology to improve production to improve the export quota.
“The importance is that we maintain the national herd to the extent that it can replenish itself, rejuvenate itself and not create any inflation in the cost of beef,” Caesar further said.
“…we have not been able, over the last 15 to 20 years, to develop a cattle production programme — maximised — where we have an export component. Persons are doing this thing in a very subsistence way. What we want to do is to transform the cattle production in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to a scale where we can have commercial cattle production,” he said.
He said purchaser paid between EC$3,000 and $5,000 for a head of cattle.
“We have done the variations in the prices and we have noted that the prices are excellent — comparable to other markets. And we really want all the farmers in St. Vincent and the Grenadine who are interested in cattle production to come on board,” Caesar said.
He further said that the Ministry of Agriculture is advising that a national cattle producers association be formed and and will be willing to work with persons wanting to form a co-operative.