By Twila Wheelan
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) is aiming to increase the supply of local milk by about 10 percent within the next five to ten years. Currently, the local sector is fulfilling only around 15 to 20 percent of demand annually.
“We are running a deficit in terms of fresh milk demand,” acting chief executive officer at the JDDB, Devon Sayers, told JIS News. “We want to get that [production] up to around 30 percent in the next five to ten years and then we grow the sector from there,” he noted.
As part of measures to boost local milk supply, Sayers said that focus is being placed on attracting new farmers and strengthening existing programmes to stimulate the sector.
“This year, we have four new persons that have entered the sector and we are just looking to promote and assist more farmers in the sector. We are also continuing with our pasture bank development and fodder bank development programmes,” he said. “We have doubled our efforts in these programmes in terms of the number of pastures and fodder banks that we have rehabilitated. Since the beginning of this financial year, we are about 50 percent above what we were last year,” he told JIS News, noting that milk production is already showing an increase over last year.
“This financial year, the numbers are coming in very good. We are over a million litres in terms of milk production that we were last time this year,” Sayers said.
The JDDB acting chief executive officer is calling on large companies that are importing milk and milk products to consider starting dairy farms as part of measures to revitalise the sector.
“Our farm-gate price is the highest on this side of the world, so there is money to be made out of dairy farming, and again, we are only supplying about 15 to 20 percent of the demand. We need more companies to come invest in the sector along with the small farmers,” he said.
Wednesday, June 1, 2022, observed as World Milk Day, and local activities will centre on the Tulloch Primary School in Bog Walk, St Catherine. For the annual observance, the ministry of agriculture and fisheries normally selects a primary or high school to promote increased milk consumption among youth.
“We will have a dairy poster competition, jingle competition and dairy poem competition. All of the schools from around the region of Bog Walk, both primary and high schools will be attending the ceremony at Tulloch Primary beginning at 10:00 am.,” Sayers told JIS News. He noted that there will also be a display at the ministry’s headquarters in Kingston.
Sayers said the focus on schools reflects the intent of the Board, to attract more young people to dairy farming.
“Going to Tulloch Primary School is significant because Tulloch Estate was once one of the largest dairy farms in Jamaica, so we are bringing it back there,” he said.
World Milk Day will also give attention to the climate change crisis and how the dairy industry can lessen the impact on the environment by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and improving waste management.