This bull, with sunken torso and suffering severe undergrowth, searches for food on this dry farmland at Pepper Dairy in St Elizabeth. The parish has been hit by drought since January. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
The shortage of milk on supermarket shelves has been linked to an ongoing drought being experienced across the island, especially in St Elizabeth, said one major supplier of the essential commodity.Raymond Brooks, owner of Pepper Dairy in the parish, said his milk production has dropped to 900 litres a day from a regular supply of 2,000 litres daily.
Brooks sells cows milk to Nestlé, Jamaica Dairy Farmers Federation and the Citrus Growers Association. These entities in turn supply milk to supermarkets and other establishments islandwide.
The dairy farmer said with undergrown pastures, due to the dry spell, cows are unable to properly feed, hence, a decrease in the supply of milk.
"The pastures are all bone dry," said Brooks, a farmer of 12 years.
"This is the worst drought I have ever experienced since being in this business," Brooks said.
His cows have to feed mainly on hay, grains and cane trash instead of gnawing on pastures. For these feeds, Brooks spends at least $8,000 weekly.
St Elizabeth, known as the bread basket of Jamaica, with its many farming communities, has been experiencing drought conditions since January.
Some farmers have complained that since Christmas Eve there has been no significant rainfall in the parish.