With sustainable practices and investment sector can be revived
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The egg production market in The Bahamas was yesterday described as being ‘wide open’ by one local poultry science expert, with the country having gone from being self sufficient in egg production roughly two decades ago to now importing 100 percent of its eggs from the United States.
Justin Taylor, a University of The Bahamas lecturer and owner of Nature’s Way Poultry Farm told Eyewitness News that this nation needs at least 200,000 laying hens to become self sufficient in egg production again.
According to Taylor, a price control war and cheaper imported eggs from the United States ultimately led to the demise of the local egg production industry.
Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Michael Pintard recently stated that The Bahamas can be self sufficient in egg production, a view Taylor shares, granted the right level of investment and practices are introduced.
Taylor said: “In the late 1990’s to early 2000’s there were two major major farms Rainbow Farms, with a capacity of 40,000-60,000 hens at the time and then you had the farm in Freeport, Grand Bahama Poultry which was eventually taken over by another company had about 130,000 hens.
“There were about 200,000 plus laying hens from which we able to get our white eggs or table eggs from. From 2004-2006 the two farms got caught in a price control where they couldn’t sell their eggs above a certain margin. Then there was the importation of foreign eggs into the country and both of those farms ultimately shut down.”
According to Taylor at any given time there are roughly 5,000-7,000 laying hens in The Bahamas. Most backyard farms consist of Rhode Island Red chickens, which he described as more resilient and disease resistant.
“The market for egg production in The Bahamas is wide open but we have a long way to go. We need about 200,000 laying hens to be self sufficient,” he said.
According to Taylor, a chick takes five months to mature and one hen could produce five eggs per week or 250-280 eggs per year.
“The Bahamas was once 100 per cent self sufficient in table eggs. Right now we import about 100 per cent of our eggs from the United States. With good husbandry practices and investment the sector can be revived,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, providing local producers with subsidies for chicken feed could help ‘even the playing field’ for local producers.
Egg prices have risen more by more than 100 percent in recent weeks, with local retailers dismissing suggestions of price gouging and pointing to a surge in demand across the US driving prices upward.