Pig Farming Group in the Black in Year One

JAMAICA - A group of farmers in St Elizabeth made $1.2 million in sales from its first stock of pigs. The Maggotty and its Environs Development Committee Benevolent Society, which got a kick-start from funding from the World Bank and the Government, expects to make $3.2 million in revenue next November.
calendar icon 2 December 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

Two years ago, the group started the pig-rearing project through the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), in a bid to generate employment for community members and ultimately contribute to efforts to increase the scale on which pig farming is done in Jamaica.

According to Jamaica Observer, the 25 pig farmers, who attained the targeted net profit they projected to make in the first year of operations, says they are on track to making $1.2 million at their bottom line in the third year of operations and thereafter expect to quadruple profit by 2017.

While acknowledging that the industry is currently generating low returns, the president of the society said the group has no intention of wasting the $5.4 million that was spent setting up the project.

"We can't just give up the business, we will continue to work and hope that the cost of the meat will increase," said Jonathan Brooks.

Farmers see margins of about 6.5 per cent, which is too low under conditions of double-digit inflation economy, according to a pig census.

Moreover, the business models of pig farmers are low-value and price-sensitive oriented — about 69 per cent of the meat is sold to the fresh market, which is extremely sensitive — putting the producers' fiscal viability under threat, stated a report released earlier this year by REDI, a project of Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Just three weeks ago, the society made its first sale to the Sweet River Abattoir, and is hoping to sell another set to that slaughterhouse within the next four months from 40 weaners.

The facility currently has 120 piglets.

The group has a contract to supply the pork to the Holy Spirit Foundation; responsible for the processing plant that produces Misty Valley Sausages in Maggotty.

To ensure that the business was sustainable and profitable, Mr Brooks said the members of the group accepted payment for three days' work, despite working for five days.

"If everyone were to get paid to work every day, we would be eating out the capital," he said. "But we all worked together for the objective to generate employment for the community members."

Furthermore, when the earnings grow even more, the plan is to contribute much more to the community.

"We intend to help the indigent and others less fortunate," said Mr Brooks.

Of course, training was given to the members in business management to ensure that the project was sustainable; this complemented the group's will.

The pig-rearing project included the rehabilitation and expansion of a 279-metres square pig pen located on a five-acre property, the supply of 150 weaners purchased at six to eight weeks old and the supply of 800-gallon water storage tanks.

The group was formed nine years ago to address unemployment brought on by the seasonal nature of sugar cane production in wgich most of the farmerswere engaged.

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