Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
"THE DAIRY industry is in a crisis now," Jasmin Holness declared in her opening statement to the 56th annual general meeting of the Jamaica Hope Cattle Breeders Society last Thursday.
Holness noted that with one of the four major processors having stopped taking milk, citing backed up inventory, dairy farmers are unable to find markets for their milk. Refusing to name the processor, Holness, who is chairman of the breed society, lamented that despite declining sales, dairy farmers still have to meet the cost of feeding the animals, as well as milking the cows.
She warned that any further fallout in the dairy industry could impact the sustainability of the Jamaica Hope herd, which now stands at a mere 6,000 animals or about 70 per cent of Jamaica's total dairy population.
The acute shortage of Jamaica Hope bulls is another significant factor negatively impacting the continued viability of the Jamaica Hope, which was developed by Dr T.P. Lecky and unveiled to the world at Bodles Research Station, St Catherine, on June 25, 1952. A new breed of cattle, it was the first developed in the Western Hemisphere,
Holness told the meeting at Grove Place, Manchester, that while that morning's appraisal of 319 female Jamaica Hope had seen 279 accepted for registration as pure bred animals, only a mere five bulls, all of which were accepted, had been presented. This, according to Holness, is cause for concern.
The Jamaica Hope is the only dairy breed among the four developed by Dr T. P. Lecky with the others being Jamaica Red Poll, Jamaica Black and Jamaica Brahman being bred for beef mainly.