A new, privately-owned hatchery that opened in Georgetown on Thursday hopes to meet the national demand for day-old chicks by the midyear.
“We should be able to meet the demand of the local consumers by the middle of this year. With the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, we plan to capture the entire poultry industry,” Clinton Ballantyne, owner of the hatchery, Alco Hatchery and General Supplies, said at the opening of the business.
“What we did, with the assistance and guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture, we embarked on a programme to introduce various breeds of chicken, also to meet the demand of the local customer and consumer,” Ballantyne said at the ceremony, which was attended by Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar and other ministry officials.
Ballantyne said the hatchery will supply a variety of species of chicken, including dual-purpose birds (chicken bred for both meat and egg), ranger broiler — a free-range species, and a very durable bird that has very good feed conversion that is suitable for the tropics, and can survive the harshest of conditions.
The hatchery will also supply turkey chicks, including wild Kentucky turkey.
And, Caesar told the opening ceremony that traditionally the state has and will continue to play a role in the production of day-old chicks
He, however, said, “This definitely is a sure sign here by Mr. Clinton Ballantyne that he is expressing significant interest in the development of the agricultural sector. It is very important for us to create the requisite framework as a government to ensure that we foster the much-needed private sector-public sector partnership, if we are going to take agriculture to the next level.
“Production and productivity are two very important watchwords in the Ministry of Agriculture, and I just want to encourage the management and staff and owners here at Alco Hatchery to ensure that their standards are kept very high. I am going to ensure that the veterinary division that they work very closely, rendering the necessary support needed because we definitely have to ensure that all the health protocols are in place,” the minister said.
Alco Hatchery was funded with support from the Farmers Support Company (FSC), a government-owned firm that provides low-interest loans to farmers.
Caesar said that persons who want to get into agricultural businesses can obtain the capital, particularly in the early stages, through FSC loans.
Kudos to you sir on this journey that you’ve started. Mr. Clinton, I wish you all the best on your new venture.
Bravo Clinton Ballantyne, we need more brave people like yourself.
The only warning that I feel i must give you is that when dealing with ministers and leaders at the min of ag, in general you are dealing with idiots that do not know their arse from their elbow.
I am sure that you will be aware of the down side as well as the up side. Because for you and perhaps local banks to invest in such a project must be aware that such a project can only have a very limited effect on the Vincentian chicken meat market, you will never compete on price with imports.
It is important to know why the Americans and some other countries are able to feed, grow, and produce chicken products so cheap, in fact cheaper than you will ever be able to produce the same thing.
For instance in the US often the farmer is the grower of the grain that is required in the chicken production on the same farm and the production unit close by as well. No one in the islands can compete with that. Because we cannot produce enough grain to feed our chicken production we must import grain from many thousands of miles away, sometime from half way across the world. You cannot rely on EC Mills for chicken feed, their prices will eat up all your profit. Also the quality is suspect in as much often layers, laying chicken, cannot produce egg shells because the mill has got the food mix wrong, That has happened several time over recent years.
As for running free range chicken. That cannot work here because of mongoose and the very high infestation on the island or rats. One mongoose will kill hundreds of roaming chicken in a day, just for the fun of it, not just to eat. Deep litter pens for eating fowl and also for egg production need to be built with extra care to make them vermin proof. A pair of mongoose will kill just about every bird in the house. Chicks up to about 4 weeks are exceptionally susceptible to rats, who again will kill more than they can eat.
Three years ago foreigners announced the same expectations as you have for the production of chickens. After weighing up all the pro’s and con’s they pulled out, never built a thing.
Please do not think that i am down grading your plans or being nasty. I do not mean to be, I just do not want to see anyone lose their shirt on a project after taking advice from our Ministry of Agriculture who do not know what day of the week it is.
As for Mr Caesar I am sure it’s not any of his money that will be lost, he should use his brains a little more. If he doesn’t know something he should investigate and get some knowledge before encouraging people to invest in such a project, which I believe is for political reasons on his part, giving no consideration to the consequences for you and the investors.
Clinton there is a market for what you are doing, but remember you are not the only one that is producing chicks on the island, and never will be. My advice is tread lightly and move slowly, don’t spend all your capital on the project and be very careful in what you borrow. Because under the present government it is much easier to lose money, than make money in SVG. Everyone is broke, many only want chicken backs and leg parts, very few want breast meat. Few even like breast meat, its about the only place I have ever known where breast meat is often sold for prices less than wings.
My final advice is to get a foreign expert in that understands the island regarding chicken production. There is one living here at the moment, if you can find him he would be of great assistance to you and your project.
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