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Legislation to establish the Jamaica Dairy Development Board, which will be charged with putting programmes in place for the growth and regulation of the dairy sector and connected matters, was passed in the House of Representatives yesterday (Dec. 9).
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, who piloted the Jamaica Dairy Development Board Act, explained that the move is in response to the decline in the national consumption of dairy products and to reduce vulnerability on the international market.
“Since 1992, average per capita consumption of fresh milk and dairy products has declined by 22 per cent to a 2007 level of 149 millilitres per capita,” he said, noting that the World Health Organisation has recommended a minimum daily allowance of 200 millilitres of fresh milk per capita.
He stated that as a country “we are challenged to respond, not just due to the marginalisation of our local diary sector, but also due to increasing volatility and uncertainty in the international market.”
According to Dr. Tufton, Jamaica must have a legitimate authority to regulate the sustainable development of the dairy sector.
“This Bill is essential and must be enacted quickly to begin a process of cauterising the decline of our dairy sector while facilitating its orderly development or re-development,” he stated.
He stated that it is the Government’s intention to ensure that the Dairy Board functions in a manner “that will see a dairy sector that allows us to be less vulnerable to the international marketplace.”
Meanwhile, Opposition Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central, Roger Clarke, in expressing support for the Bill, noted that there is “nothing to oppose as far as this Bill is concerned.”
Member of Parliament for St. Andrew Eastern, Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett stated that the Jamaica Dairy Development Board is necessary, as the sector “needs this kind of lift.”
The process to establish a development board follows adoption of the recommendations of a 1996 mission from the Commonwealth Secretariat, which conducted, at the request of the previous administration, an in-depth study of the dairy sector.