THE SYDNEY Pagon STEM Academy in Braes River, St Elizabeth, formerly known as the Elim Agricultural School, was the proud recipient of a new mobile milking machine from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on Wednesday, in order to boost its capacity and quality of dairy production.
The machine, which was provided through the efforts of the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) and is the first of its kind to be distributed in Jamaica, was handed over in an official ceremony on the grounds of the Sydney Pagon Academy. The mobile milking machine will allow for more efficient and contaminant-free extraction of milk from the school’s dairy cows, compared to the traditional method of milking by hand.
Sydney Pagon STEM Academy, which was selected as the first recipient of the device following a lengthy selection process, also received a pledge of $1 million in support from Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North East Delroy Slowley.
During his keynote address at Wednesday’s ceremony, Franklin Witter, the minister of state in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said that the handover comes at a time when food security has become a concern in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing global impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The pandemic has taught us many things, and with the advent of the war in Eastern Europe, there is a lot more to learn. One of the top lessons is the need for boosting food security and in enabling self-sufficiency, and this resonates well within every area of the agriculture and fishery sector,” said Witter.
“This includes the dairy industry, ensuring that Jamaica’s ability to produce milk and milk-based products at excellent quality and sufficient quantity, even during the most challenging times, is critical. Today’s initiative is a significant step in the right direction and if we proceed towards the future in a similar manner, in achieving food security, it will be within our reach,” Witter added.
In expressing gratitude for the new machine, Milbert Miller, principal of Sydney Pagon STEM Academy, said that the institution has already greatly benefited from the assistance given by the JDDB.
“Today is a very great day in the life of Sydney Pagon STEM Academy. We are the first to receive a milking machine from the JDDB and there are some other ‘firsts’ to come, so I want to thank the JDDB for the tremendous support that they have been giving to Sydney Pagon STEM Academy,” said Miller.
“This institution has benefited from training support and technical support, plus we have been receiving support in terms of parcel (of land) development from the JDDB, and that is ongoing.” Miller explained. “We have Mombasa grass, and we are going to take care of the little we have till we can get some more because I hear that it can increase the milk production, and we want to increase the acreage as well.”
In addition to the mobile milking machine, the Sydney Pagon STEM Academy is set to benefit from the opening of a multifunctional agro-processing plant, valued at some $35 million. The processing plant, construction of which began last June and finished last September, will solve the perennial problem of farmers in St Elizabeth having a substantial amount of produce going to waste due to oversupply and insufficient markets.
Source: The Gleaner: https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20220325/sydney-pagon-academy-gets-new-mobile-milking-machine