Letter of the day: Time to revitalise the dairy industry
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Prime Minister ridiculously promised thousands of jobs, which all educated Jamaicans know is politicking. With mining in the doldrums, and no serious assistance to the private sector to exploit the more-than-abundant limestone, we find one critical sector to our health and nutrition neglected - the diary industry.
Our milk and cheese needs cannot be overlooked, but that sector is a disaster. With true unemployment (inclusive of the thousands of vendors who cannot find anything else to do) nearing 30 per cent and true (not the Statistical Institute of Jamaica data) youth unemployment nearing 50 per cent, one would have thought that more serious efforts would be made towards agriculture, including milk production.
sale of imported milk
A litre of UHT milk now costs roughly $300. As a developing country, two basic items should be affordable to consumers - bread and milk. The Government has allowed imported milk to be sold in this country while the local dairy industry dies.
I cannot fathom why a sachet of instant milk should be sold to poor people at $170 retail, perhaps $150 at the Chinese haberdasheries. It is an affront to the nutritional needs of our people and our children will not be able to develop the brain power as is the situation in Cuba and in the developed world. I mention Cuba because while that island cannot provide fancy apartments, houses and consumer durables, it ensures that milk, eggs and bread are available to its citizens.
Our school's nutritional programme is a 'sugar and carbohydrates thing' where school children receive sweet, sugary cakes, buns and bag juice, while milk is not issued.
When will there be a government policy to revitalise our dairy industry? When will I see cows grazing in pastures in Manchester, St Elizabeth and the outlying areas of Claremont, Moneague, Brown's Town and Alexandria as was common in the 1970s and 1980s? It is a national disgrace to know that apart from Seprod and Island Dairies, Jamaican businesses are not involved in serious milk production.
It is more than time now that, especially with the serious unemployment in the island, the Government takes action to revitalise the industry to deal with our calcium and protein needs. I do hope those close to the prime minister will read this letter and at least influence her to do something about such an important industry.
Aboukir, St Ann