Caribbean Islands-Livestock, Fishing, and Forestry
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Livestock were healthy, diversified, and relatively numerous in
the late 1980s. Self-sufficiency was close to 100 percent for pork,
80 percent for beef, and 60 percent for poultry. Agro-21's
Master Plan of 1983 called for beef self-sufficiency to be
reached nationwide, a goal generally perceived as feasible.
Nevertheless, livestock production declined in the mid-1980s,
largely as a result of increased feed costs brought on by numerous
devaluations of the Jamaican dollar. Virtually all of the poultry
produced were chickens, of which there were nearly 6 million on the
island. Most chicken farms were small, but a few large producers
were influential. Poultry production was dependent on price changes
relative to the price of other meats. An increase in the price of
chicken in the late 1980s forecast lowered output. Besides chicken,
the most common farm animals in Jamaica were goats, totalling more
than 295,000, raised for both their milk and meat. Pigs were common
on small farms. Swine disease rates were low compared with other
Two large dairy farms, Alcan (the bauxite company) and Serge
Island, produced 80 percent of domestic milk, although 60 percent
of dairy cattle were owned by small farmers. During 1984, two
formerly government-owned dairies, Cornwall and Montepelier, were
closed as part of the government's divestment policies; the
closings further hindered output. As a result of climate and
resources, Jamaicans also consumed a large quantity of imported
powdered milk. In 1985 the country remained dependent on imported
dairy products to meet 84 percent of local demand.
Other livestock included mules, donkeys, and horses, all of
which were used primarily for transport. The agricultural census
also reported nearly 7,000 sheep and almost 24,000 rabbits. An
increasingly popular activity was bee farming for the commercial
production of honey.
One of the most important obstacles that faced the government
in the 1980s was the high price of imported feeds. To overcome this
problem, agricultural policies stressed import substitution, such
as increased corn production and experimentation with
nontraditional feeds, including sugarcane tops, fish waste, and
other agricultural by-products.
Fish was consumed in large quantities in Jamaica, exceeding
domestic production. Dried saltfish, historically imported from
Canada in exchange for Jamaican rum, still entered the country, but
supply was irregular by the late 1980s. The island also imported
more than 50,000 kilos of shrimp, codfish, sardines, mackerel, and
herring in 1985. Fish production dropped markedly from 18,500 tons
in 1980 to 6,000 tons in 1984 as a result of the high cost of
equipment, but production rebounded in 1985, reaching 9,550 tons.
From 1983 to 1985, pond area grew by 55 percent in an attempt to
increase fresh water production for local markets and shrimp
production for the export market. Improved marketing, which would
require a switch of preference in consumer taste from salt water
fish to fresh water fish, remained an obstacle to the success of
inland fish farming. Fish ponds were one of several priority
subsectors of the Agro-21 plan.
Natural forests, defined as land with at least 20 percent tree
cover, represented 24 percent of total land. Government forestry
preserves were large. Policies sought self-sufficiency in general
purpose timber, with a target 1,700 hectares of forest and
producing 40,000 cubic meters of sawlogs a year. In the late 1980s,
however, self-sufficiency was still far away. The long-term
development of mostly hardwoods, pines, and other species was
planned to support the furniture, craft, and construction
industries. Small sawmills were common but generally undersupplied.
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