First Look

Dairy Board’s Grass and Loan Programmes boosting milk production & profits

| 2016-07-04 00:00:00

Dairy cattle farmers and at least one processor of milk are commending the Jamaica Dairy Development Board for its efforts to increase milk production in Jamaica and improve the livelihoods of those who depend on the dairy industry. The commendation came during a tour of the Jamaica Beverages milk and juice processing plant in Bog Walk, St. Catherine by the new chairman of the Dairy Board, Mr. Donald Elvey, the Board’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Hugh Graham and other Technical staff on Thursday (June 30).

Mr. Elvey said the tour is a follow-up on activities to mark World Milk on June 1 and is part of efforts by the Dairy Board to increase milk production in Jamaica from the current levels of 13 million litres to 20 million litres.  He said the tour was part of a series of consultations with the various stakeholders in the dairy sector. He noted that Jamaica Beverages – producers of the Dairy Farmers brand of boxed milk and Juiciful orange and other juice – was in expansion mode and is set to increase its current 10 per cent market share with greater local sales as well as exports to Venezuela, Trinidad and other markets.

“The Dairy Board is an integral part of the Jamaica’s food import substitution drive and the Government’s economic growth and job creation agenda,” Mr. Elvey pointed out.

Dairy Board Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Hugh Graham said one of the most important programmes implemented by the Dairy Board was the Fodder Bank initiative to introduce new and better varieties of grass for foraging or feeding by cattle. The improved grass yield and the movement away from feeding cattle on concentrate, he explained, has yielded better milk production, while reducing costs and increasing profits for dairy farmers.

He pointed to the increase in milk production by dairy farmers in the Rhymesfield area of Clarendon who supply the Jamaica Beverages processing plant, from 90,000 litres in April this year to 120,000 litres in May, as evidence of the increased yield. New farmers are also entering the business as some farmers who were displaced by the liberalisation of milk imports in the 1990s, are now re-entering the sector.

“Many of them have completed their business plans and are now awaiting disbursement of funds under the special concessionary loan programmes for the dairy sector,” Mr. Graham disclosed.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Rhymesfield Dairy Farmers Cooperative Mr. Derrick Walker has high praises for the assistance being provided to dairy farmers by the Dairy Board. He said the fodder bank programme is going well and the farmers have bought into the initiative with successful results. “Our relationship with the Jamaica Dairy Development Board can only get better and it is the farmers who really benefit,” Mr. Walker noted.

Speaking for Jamaica Beverages, Quality Assurance Manager at the plant, Mr. Abdull Solam said he was pleased with the collaboration with the farmers and the Dairy Board. He said the success was being seen in the increased production at the plant, which is now considering introducing an aseptic or tetra pak long life packaging line for milk. He pointed out that the company is getting ready to export including to some Caribbean, Central and south American Countries.

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