Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Milk the opportunity - Massive chance for local dairy ­farmers to increase production

Published:Wednesday | December 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The local dairy industry is being prepped to ride the crest of a growing demand for fresh milk by developing countries, with a projected 22 per cent increase in global milk ­production by 2027. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has also taken note that rising ­affluence and urbanisation are translating into increased demand for livestock products, particularly in these countries.

According to Dermon Spence, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the data suggests that since the early 1970s, aggregate consumption of milk, led by developing countries, has grown significantly from 34 to 47 per cent of world consumption patterns in China and South East Asia.

This increase in demand has impacted the world price of milk, making it more attractive for our local farmers and local ­producers as the price of skimmed milk on the international market has equalled that of local fresh milk. What this means is that there are massive opportunities for our farmers to increase local production,” Spence told Monday’s launch of a two-week workshop on Livestock Breeding Strategies and Selection Principles.


However, there are significant challenges, the permanent secretary admitted, pointing to the fact that the average daily milk production of the Jamaica Hope cow has fallen significantly.

“Not only do we have a low number of mature milking cows and purebred sires, but there are also high and increasing inbreeding, inadequate pastures and fodder, high costs of inputs, heavy investment costs and high costs of financing,” Spence further admitted.

The total of the Jamaica Hope cattle population stands at less than 4,000 and average mill production is at between five and seven litres of milk per day per cow.

The Jamaica Dairy Development Board has been working to improve nutrition by planting over 102 hectares of fodder banks on farmers’ holdings, as well as the provision of fodder production equipment such as disc mowers, chaffing machines, tedder rakes and balers to farmers.

This is in addition to other ­initiatives being carried out by the ministry’s research and development division to include:

- Total mixed ration research into improved nutrition of ruminants, including dairy animals.

- Support of development of ­silvo-pastoral strategies through the on-farm establishment of plots on dairy farmers holdings, through the provision of planting material.

- Construction of a $60-million barn with the objective improving genetics disseminated to farmers

- Modernisation of the Bodles Dairy Parlour to improve data collection that will feed into an improved breeding programme.

This is being done with significant support from private sector partners such as Newport Mills Limited, Hi-Pro Farms Supplies, Serge Island and Nutramix, which have been collaborating with the ministry on the revitalisation of the dairy industry.