The Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) is to step up beef and milk production in Jamaica through an initiative in which farmers will be trained in how to plant grass to ensure a sustainable source of feedfor their animals.
Devon Sayers, the acting chief executive officer of the JDDB, says that based on the organisation’s assessments, the scope is there to improve the production and quality of locally produced meat.
“Jamaica’s beef imports at the end of 2019 was 14, 282 tonnes. If we can improve the quantity of our production, we will be able to significantly reduce our import bill,” said Sayers.
It is against this background that the JDDB has chosen to introduce to farmers three types of grass, which they believe will help to improve the quality of the animals they are producing. The grass are the mombasa, the Cayman, and the mulatto varieties, which are believed to be of the highest quality.
“They are high in protein, and dairy farmers are singing their praises,” said Sayers. “The milk production has improved tremendously. On one acre of properly managed cultivation, a farmer can look forward to 35 tons of grass,” said Sayers.
TAKING TO THE FARMERS
The JDDB is taking its promotion to the farmers operating on lands leased from Sugar Company of Jamaica in proximity to the Long Pond Sugar Estate in Clarks Town, Trelawny, where former sugar lands are being used for other purposes.
“We are planning to meet with these farmers to inform them about the varieties of grass we have. The information will include how to plant the grass, how to manage the growth, and the benefits of cutting and feeding the animals as compared to grazing,” said Sayers.
In addition to telling the farmers about the programme, Sayers said the JDDB plans to demonstrate first-hand to the farmers how the planting should be done.
“The plan is to establish demonstration plots. On these plots, farmers will be able to observe all the intricacies which go into the production,” said Sayers.
The JDDB’s initiative coincides with a plan by the Jamaica Development Bank (JDB) to provide farmers with loans to put them on a sound footing to be productive.
“The Jamaica Development Bank is offering to farmers loans at very good interest rates. It is five per cent on the money borrowed. Farmers can get up to $5 million to borrow,” said Sayers.
Vincent Blair, one of the farmers poised to benefit from the JDDB and JDB assistance, said it is all good news and he is looking forward to the future with much optimism.
“This is a great offering to our farmers. It will give them the opportunity to make better economic use of the land, allowing them to better see the viability of farming,” said Blair.
Source: The Gleaner