Poultry farmers in Grenada are angry with both Agriculture Minister Yolande Bain-Horsford and Trade Minister Oliver Joseph for their plight of not getting feed from overseas to take care of their birds.
Emergency poultry feed imported from Trinidad by local farmers is being held up at the country’s main port after the Ministry of Trade failed to grant an import licence.
President of the Grenada Poultry Association, Jason Philip told THE NEW TODAY Friday night that Minister Joseph assured him that the necessary import licence would be fast-tracked by the ministry to offload the feed on arrival at the St. George’s Port.
According to Phillip, an application for a licence to import the feed was made three days before but as of 11.00 a.m. today (Saturday) the 900 bags of imported feed could not be offloaded from the cargo vessel, Liberation because there has been no directive from the Department of Trade.
Poultry Farmers are facing a major crisis after the local company which supplies them with feed was ordered shut by the Ministry of Health after its employees began testing positive for the deadly coronavirus – COVID19.
Feeds supplies have run out and the ministry continues to prevent the company from selling feed which it has in stock.
Poultry farmers have been unable to buy processed feed for almost one week, now.
Farmers who arrived at designated locations to collect feed have been left waiting and empty handed.
According to Philip, they have been told by port officials that no directive was received from the Ministry of Trade and the Trade Officer has not received any instructions from the Director of Trade.
The local feed company, which holds a monopoly, was granted an import licence and is expected to bring in a shipment of feed from Barbados by Wednesday.
Poultry farmer have said this timeline would be disastrous for the industry because the birds will not survive beyond two days without feed and they went ahead to source feed from Trinidad on a more urgent timeline.
The Poultry Association has made a second application for an import licence but it is not clear whether it would be granted.
According to Phillip, the 900 bags of feed being held up at the port is not sufficient to sell to every poultry farmer but it could cover most of them until the Barbados shipment arrives in five days.
He estimates that their ship will last for three to four days.
Phillip said the situation would be “catastrophic” for the multi-million dollar industry if farmers have to wait on the Barbados shipment.
About 70, 000 birds are at risk and projected losses have been estimated in the region of $10-million.
The Poultry Association has set up distribution points at national stadium car park, La Sagesse Playing Field, Plains pasture, St Patrick and Progress Park.
Farmers were advised that the feed would arrive at 8.00 a.m, clearing would commence at 9.00 a.m. with distribution at those locations to follow immediately.
The Minister for Agriculture Bain-Horsford has not made a public statement on the feed crisis facing the nation’s poultry farmers.
Phillip said that when the minister was approached on the matter she referred him to the Trade Minister.
The Poultry association president indicated that he has been restraining his members from taking to the streets to protest against the lukewarm manner in which the Keith Mitchell-led government is treating the crisis situation.