With an injection of $27m in grant funding, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries last Thursday, launched its ninth agro-park at the Sweet River Abattoir in Ferris, Westmoreland.
Valued at some $292 million, the Sweet River Abattoir Agro-Park, which is being established through a public-private sector partnership, is also the first of five regional abattoirs to be established in centralised locations islandwide as part of Government's efforts to streamline slaughtering houses and abattoirs to meet international best practices.
"The 12,000-sqaure-foot, fully automated facility will target the throughput of 2.6 million kilogram (kg) of pork and 315,500 kg of chevron and mutton, and provide direct employment for 50 persons and another 1,200 through indirect employment," said Agriculture, Labour and Social Security Minister Derrick Kellier at the launch.
Minister Kellier said it is expected that the abattoir will ultimately result in foreign exchange savings of US$9m annually and will purchase pigs, sheep and goats from the catchment areas in the parishes of St Elizabeth, St James, Trelawny, Hanover and Westmoreland.
It is also expected that the quality of choice cuts emerging from this facility will meet the standards required for the hotel and manufacturing sectors.
The agriculture minister said, further, that the Government is committed to provide the legislative framework to make it mandatory for all commercial meat to pass through certified abattoirs.
"Together with the National Animal Identification and Traceability System and the recently established Praedial Larceny Unit, we are confident that this will deal another blow to praedial thieves," Minister Kellier declared.