Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Audley Shaw, has reassured dairy farmers of Government’s commitment to stimulate growth and development of the dairy industry.
Stating that Jamaica produces only 50% of the milk that we consume, the Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister expressed the desire to see milk production restored to the high levels experienced in the 1990s.
“With all the land we have in Jamaica, we should be self-sufficient in milk and we should be exporting processed and even fresh milk,” the Minister said.
He was speaking at the handover of a silo press and packer by the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project to the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, on March 14.
The equipment, which will improve access to nutritious feed material for cattle, was secured at a cost of approximately US$12,000 and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The silo press will be able to pack up to 50 tonnes of silage at a time. With this intensified conservation of forages and other feeds, we believe we will be able to stem production losses, particularly in the dry season,” Minister Shaw said.
He added that the silo packer presents an opportunity for others, in particular sugar-cane farmers, to dedicate a percentage of their crop towards animal feed.
“It is the intention of the Board to significantly increase the quantity and availability of conserved forages in the form of hay, haylage and silage in the upcoming months to offer our farmers low-cost options for feeding livestock and expanding production,” Minister Shaw said.
In expressing appreciation to the Ja REEACH for the donation of the equipment, the agriculture minister referred to the smaller silo packer that was donated last September stating that over 50 farmers in St. Ann, Clarendon, St. Catherine and St. Elizabeth have benefitted from packing material that includes locally grown feed ingredients.
Minister Shaw also informed that the Ministry is working to redevelop the Bodles Research Station in order to return it to its pride of place as a symbol of excellence in agricultural research in the Caribbean.
“So, in addition to the provision of modern equipment and techniques, we are also engaged in the rehabilitation of infrastructure,” said Minister Shaw.
To date, work is advanced on a number of buildings, including a cattle barn, the bio control laboratory, the sewerage system, farrowing pen, administrative building and bathroom facilities, which have been renovated.
By the end of the current financial year, it is expected that some $140 million would have been expended on the Bodles Redevelopment Project, while some $295.6m has been allocated for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.