My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Egg Shortage in Jamaica set to continue to March 2014 - Poor Agricultural Planning to blame as Cheap Meat shortages forcing many to become Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Egg Shortage in Jamaica set to continue to March 2014 - Poor Agricultural Planning to blame as Cheap Meat shortages forcing many to become Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians

“We had indicated that we were expecting a fairly tight situation with supplies, and that consumers might have the challenges of getting the Eggs. What we in fact noticed in Christmas is that demand was stronger and the farmers were unable to provide an inventory of supply, so supply was mainly coming from the farms directly to the suppliers”

Caribbean Broilers' Corporate Affairs Manager Dr Keith Amiel commenting on the Egg Shortage in Jamaica in an interview with the Jamaica Business Observer

If you’re planning to make Glow-in-the-Dark Etched Easter Eggs this Easter as described in my blog article entitled “How to make Glow-in-the-Dark Etched Easter Eggs - Russian Tradition with a Modern Jamaican Twist makes Katy Perry Roar” to decorate your house while consuming Bun and Cheese with Fry Fish and Festival, you may have to start collecting Egg Shells, like now! 

It seems that the Chickens aren’t laying enough Eggs as there is STILL an Egg Shortage across the island as noted in “Egg Shortage Linked To 'Panic Buying' - Producers Expect Supply To Stabilise In February”, Published Wednesday January 22, 2014 by Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is the very same Egg Shortage confirmed since October 2013 and up to December 2013 as stated in “Egg Suppliers Scramble To Fill Production Gap Ahead Of Holidays”, Published Wednesday October 9, 2013 Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Jamaica Egg Farmers Association confirm egg Shortage”, published Tue December 24, 2013 6:23 pm, RJR News Online respectively is still ongoing!

That’s right dear reader!

Not only has the Egg Shortage persisted into the Third week of January 2014, placing many a housewife and vegetarian in a panic, but it's now projected by the JEFA (Jamaica Egg Farmers Association) to last way into February 2014 as well, possibly into March 2014! This is troubling indeed, as this puts several Industries in a tight spot during the Easter Period set for Sunday April 20th 2014 as noted in “When Is Easter 2014?”, viewed 25/1/2014 By Scott P. Richert,

The Baking, Food Processing and Tourism Industry that normally depend on Eggs being in good supply are soon to face problems in production if this Egg Shortage persists. Not to mention the School Feeding Program, which uses Liquefied Eggs that can’t find a market as noted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture to approve Fruit and Liquified Eggs for School Feeding Program even as Pork faces Glut - How Solar Farming will make Jamaica's Food Security Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”.

Ironically, they’re the one thing that we CAN’T import reliably due to their delicate nature as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica's Basic Item Food Bill mostly from 1st World Countries - Buy Jamaican Build Jamaica made from Imported Raw Materials in containers that says Made in Jamaica”.

What’s the cause – Dr Keith Amiel claims its over-exuberant Housewives

As my title suggests, the cause of this latest silent dilemma is really poor Agricultural planning by farmers. Apparently nobody expected that housewives would be doing that much baking this Christmas. Either that or an awful lot of people have stopped eating Meat and have become Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians, thus increasing their intake of Eggs and causing the Shortage.

Caribbean Broilers' Corporate Affairs Manager Dr Keith Amiel, possibly a married man, claims it’s the housewives, quote: “I think the phenomenon that we have been seeing over the last two weeks is not a Shortage but panic buying. In other words, the housewife didn't see eggs anywhere in the week or two before Christmas, and now that she has seen them she takes them up in case it goes short again”.

On the surface this seems to make sense; Christmas usually sees a marked increase in Egg usage due to baking activities, albeit he hasn’t got the figures to claim by what level. Good to note too we do consume an awful lot of Eggs year round, according to the Caribbean Broiler Stats provided by Caribbean Broilers' Corporate Affairs Manager Dr Keith Amiel:

1.      10.75 Million or 895,833 Dozen Eggs consumed per month on Average since 2007 to 2013
2.      10.5 Million Eggs or 875,000 Dozen Eggs consumed per month on Average in 2013 alone

To get an idea of how many eggs were produced islandwide and thus the volume of Eggs used by the Local Population as well as Baking, Food Processing and Tourism Industry in the last Quarter of 2013 (October to December 2013), the Data from the Ministry of Agriculture comes in handy:

1.      27 million dozens Estimated to have been produced
2.      33 million dozens Consumed 
3.      11 million dozen Eggs Consumed per month

No matter which way you spin it, that’s a lot of Baking!

Poor Agricultural Planning – Cheap Meat Shortages forcing many to become Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians

I’m willing to bet it’s the latter, as Chicken Back is now in such short supply, that Jamaicans have begun to turn to other animals as a source of protein, possibly including the Mongoose and the Crocodile as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaicans now Eating Sly Mongoose as Chicken Back Shortage Gets closer to Christmas - Family and Community Gardens needed to Grow what we Eat and reduce Food Import Bill”.

The more Christian and Chaste among us (Seventh Day Adventists, et al), rather than to eat unclean Meats such as the hard-to-cook Pork as noted in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Pork PR for increased Production - Jamaicans don’t like Pork Because they cannot cook it”, have opted to go Vegetarian instead, but with Eggs as their Meat replacement. 

Combine that with the fact that you need to feed your children Meat, many poorer families and even some supposedly Middle Class peeps since Christmas have been on the hunt for cheaper Meat alternatives since then. Eggs dressed up as Corned Beef is cheaper than even Chicken Foot and Chicken Neck, even Turkey Neck, based on my price checks in Hi-Lo Supermarket where I regularly shop.

I’ve tried this and trust me, Eggs, once done right with the right seasonings, can taste like Corned Beef but with a softer chewy, almost boneless texture. I’m a fan of Boneless Meat, which is the main reason why I mostly buy Fish or Seasoned Pepper Steak, as I dislike Struggling with bones. But these options are STILL expensive and I’m not fond of eating Chicken’s Foot or Chicken’s Neck or any of their bony-with-no-Meat body parts.

But the prices in Hi-Lo are so similar to Downtown and the shopping in Cross Roads is so conveniently positioned that I’ve slowly over time forgone going Downtown. I mainly now shop Downtown for Clothing, Special Items that are cheaper downtown, saving my JA$100 by just walking home to Swallowfield from Cross Roads.

I mention all this, as many housewives and anyone that’s working must logically be thinking the same way. Eggs are now on the menu as they’re the cheapest source of Protein, hence the Shortage.

Egg Production to be back on Track by March 2014 – Organize Farmers to exploit Export Potential

Caribbean Broilers' Corporate Affairs Manager Dr Keith Amiel claims that Caribbean Broilers will ramp up production of Eggs by March 2014, as February 2014 is just an estimated recovery month, quote: “We have been doing a lot of promotions, particularly now that we have gone into the school-feeding programme with egg. Usually, the supply would come back on track fairly quickly after Christmas but this particular time we find that it is taking a little longer. We, however, have a clear projection that by the end of February supply will be back to normal”.

With a possible Ban on Fast Food looming as noted in my blog article entitled “Min. of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson proposes financing Health Care via a Fast Food and Junk Food Tax - Jamaican High Schoolers Addiction to American style Fast Food”, Egg Consumption is thus set to spike, as any new Taxes on Meat at Fast Food Restaurants will drive more Jamaicans to eat Eggs to supplement for Protein in their Diet!

Despite these assurances, the Ministry of Agriculture needs to do the same thing with Eggs as they plan to do with Breadfruit  and other Fruit Trees or even Cassava as noted in my blog article entitled “Breadfruit and Fruit Tree Revival coming under RADA's National Fruit-Tree Crop Project - Red Stripe and Agro-Investment Corporation an example of how Agriculture benefits both Farmer and GOJ”; organize all Farmers to produce the product in excess, with any glut being vacuum packed and sold for export.

It’s the devil in the details i.e. how to organize and modernize Farming and get younger people involved in Egg production that may be the Problem.

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