Local dairy farmers to get $70 million assistance
Agriculture Minister Floyd Green says local dairy farmers are poised to benefit from a $70-million loan arrangement through the Jamaica Dairy Development Board and the Dairy Concessionary Loan Programme, which will improve their capacity to become successful.
Green, who was speaking at the handover ceremony of silage (facility to compact grass and green fodder in airtight conditions) to dairy farmers in Goshen, St Elizabeth, on Friday, said he is encouraging the dairy farmers to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“We know financing continues to be an issue for dairy farmers. We have $70 million that we are making available to all dairy farmers,” said Green.
“Through this financial scheme, you can improve the quality of your stock and you can increase your herd numbers. In fact, interest payments on these loans are as low as five per cent, so take advantage of this opportunity that the ministry is providing through the Jamaica Dairy Development Board,” added Green.
The agriculture minister said the dairy sector has the ability to really move Jamaica forward, but admitted that one of the factors holding back agriculture is the local financial sector.
According to Green, until the financial sector falls in line with the agricultural programme, the sector will remain in the so-called ‘slow boat to China’ mode.
“We have to reduce our reliance on imported grain because we have no control over the prices of imported grain, and if you have seen what has happened in the worldwide grain market, despite the best efforts of our local suppliers, you are unable to absorb the sort of increases that have really been dealt on the world stage,” said Green.
“So, what we have to do is to ensure that our local farmers are using more of these principles, them having the fodder, really conserving, and it is time that we design facilities that all our farmers can have access to, whether you be small, medium or big,” said Green.
According to Green, it is difficult for anyone to get capital to invest in farming in Jamaica, and now that we have got most of our investors on board, the next stop has to be our financial sector.
Green was a part of a touring party that included representatives from Island Dairy Farm, Jamaica Dairy Development Board, and the St Elizabeth Dairy Development Corporation, which visited sections of Bogue Hill Dairy Farm in Elim, and Island Dairy Farm in Goshen, where they had the official handover ceremony of silage to dairy farmers.
Silage is a new approach the agriculture ministry has taken on to combine grass with a combination of other mixtures into dairy feed, which can be stocked and stored for at least three years.
The silage will also be available to dairy farmers at a much lower cost that grain feed, and can be stored for longer periods to be used in time of drought, and seasons when the grass is low.