(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     A team from the CARICOM Secretariat met members of the CARICOM Poultry Association (CPA) April9 to ascertain how the two sides could work together to achieve the goals of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The CPA’s mandate is to promote the socio-economic development of the Region through the development, growth and expansion of the Caribbean poultry industry and to create linkages.

The meeting at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, was an opportunity for the CPA to share its vision, progress and challenges in the industry. The meeting was held at a time when the Secretariat is continuing efforts to broaden the conversation with the Region’s Private Sector to optimise the latter’s output and sustainability.

With much emphasis placed on food security, rural development and the reduction of the Region’s $4B food import bill, the meeting was timely for both parties. Poultry meat accounts for more than 80 per cent of meat consumed in the Region.

Most of the poultry meat and eggs consumed within CARICOM comes from CPA member organisations, with self-sufficiency hovering at about 67 per cent for meats and close to 100 per cent for eggs. The industry produces about 243 000 metric tonnes of poultry, 122 million dozen eggs per year, accounts for the employment of more than 100,000 persons and annual sales of US$660M.

Around the table on Monday were high level officials including CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Development, Mr. Joseph Cox, Director, CARICOM Single Market and Sectoral Programmes, Dr. Richard Brown, CARICOM Programme Manager, Agriculture and Industry, Ms. Nisa Surujbally and Deputy Programme Manager, Agricultural Development, Dr. Ronnie Brathwaite.

The representatives of the CPA were President, Mr. David Reimer, of Belize; Dr. Desmond A. Ali, Executive Director; Mr. Christopher Levy, Executive Chairman Jamaica Broilers Limited; Mr. Conley Salmon, President Jamaica Operation of Jamaica Broilers Limited; Mr. Peter de Freitas, CPA President-elect and Chief Executive Officer of Barbados’ Chickmont Foods Limited; Dr. Keith Amiel, Advisor, Special Projects, Caribbean Broilers Limited of Jamaica; Mr. Robin Phillips, Director, Sales and Marketing, Arawak Limited of Trinidad and Tobago; and Mr. Patrick de Groot, Chief Executive Officer of Bounty Farms Limited of Guyana.

As the Community continues to augment sanitary requirements in the industry, the council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) last October approved nine of the Region’s processing plants for trade within the Region.

The poultry plants from six CARICOM Member States – Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago – were cleared to sell poultry products intra-regionally after they were assessed by Regional Risk Assessments Teams and met the sanitary requirements to enter the CARICOM Market.

Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) coordinated the assessments and the process of review and finalisation by the  CARICOM Committee of Chief Veterinary Officers.

The opportunities for increasing intra-regional trade, the application of the CARICOM Standards for poultry products, the strides made in value-added production in the regional industry, and positioning the industry to play an increasing role in the CSME, were among the key matters the two sides discussed.

The CPA registered its concern on the lack of adoption of the specifications for poultry meat and feeds, which were developed by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and approved by COTED. The CPA indicated that it is in discussion with the United Sates Department of Agriculture for these standards being met on products exported to the Region. To ensure that goods of the highest quality are circulating in the Community, the CPA is emphasising labelling of poultry and poultry products with the date of slaughter and so that sub-standard products do not enter the Region.

The CPA representatives told the Secretariat team that poultry producers were making inroads in the fast-growing area of value-added offerings such as pre-seasoned, ready-to-cook, and fully-cooked products. In this regard, the Association identified jerk, curried ad other regional indigenous seasoned meat as its greatest potential for export.

The meeting also discussed the developments in liquid eggs, breeder eggs, feed production, cogeneration and meeting the demands of a very differentiated poultry market through more than sixty fresh product types.

Assistant Secretary General Cox indicated that the meeting was elucidatory and that the exchanges provided the CARICOM Secretariat with a much better understanding of the developmental plans of the industry. The CPA Members expressed their appreciation for the support and guidance provided by the Secretariat and agreed that interventions at the national level were also needed to make better use of the opportunities provided under the CSME.