Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Developing a Beef Grading System in Nicaragua

One major focus of Partners' livestock value chain approach in Nicaragua is to improve competitiveness in export beef markets by developing a national quality control and grading system. Back in July 2015, F2F volunteer Ken Ayers, a retired USDA beef grading and certification expert, traveled to Nicaragua to conduct trainings for Nicaraguan packing house employees on how to analyze the maturity of carcasses by evaluating the size, shape, and ossification of the bones and cartilages.

Ken Ayers teaches a beef packing house worker how to evaluate carcasses 
In March 2016, Ayers once again traveled to Nicaragua - this time with fellow F2F volunteer Marty O’Connor, also a retired USDA beef grading and certification expert – to follow up on his prior F2F assignment with National Cattleman’s Commission of Nicaragua (CONAGAN) and Nicaragua Chamber of Beef Industry Exports (CANICARNE) in July 2015. Mr. Ayers and Mr. O’Connor conducted beef quality grading and certification workshops with senior officials at CANICARNE and CONAGAN, indicating carcass evaluation methods to identify the maturity and quality of meat. Upon returning from the assignment, Mr. Ayers noted, “the young natural grass fed animals [in Nicaragua] are very nice…and people in the U.S. are eating and wanting more of this natural grass fed beef and are willing to pay more for them.” Although the establishment of a Nicaraguan grading and certification process is an incremental process, both F2F Nicaragua staff and hosts alike are confident that the efforts will bear results and stakeholders along the entire beef value chain – especially smallholder cattle ranchers – will benefit.

Stay tuned as Partners continues to work with CONAGAN, CANICARNE, and the Nicaraguan government to establish the national grading and certification system!


Ken Ayers and Marty O'Connor visit a beef packing house in March 2016

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