Equipment valued at over $4.6 million has been handed over to the Rhymesfield Dairy Development Co-operative in Clarendon by the Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke.
The handing over ceremony took place on March 30 at the office of the Rhymesfield Dairy Development Co-operative in Clarendon.
The equipment has been provided through grant funding from the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) as part of a $7.7 million initiative with the Rhymesfield Dairy Development Co-operative, and will also include the establishment of an irrigation system by the end of 2004.
Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke alights from a tractor which was among equipment valued at just under $4.6 million handed over by the Minister on March 30 in Clarendon, at the launch of the Rhymesfield dairy farmers’ project.
Two tractors, two trailers, one fertilizer distributor and one forage harvester were handed over. They will be used for the production of fodder to make Total Mixed Ration (TMR), a cheaper compound which will replace concentrated feed.
In his address, Minister Clarke said that the project was intended to bring down the cost of producing milk through the use of technology, by having cheaper feed for the animals; and to move the dairy industry forward.
“When you realize that the estimated value of the dairy sector to Jamaica is somewhere in the region of $8 billion and our farmers are only getting about $500 million, it says that there is a great opportunity for growth and development and better still, it is something that goes to the heart of rural development,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that there were several initiatives being undertaken by the ministry to assist in the development of the industry, including the establishment of a milk-marketing project, the formation of the Jamaica Dairy Farmers Federation (JDFF), the acquisition of the Century Farm processing facilities in Old Harbour, and the purchase of milk through the JDFF for the national school feeding programme.
This, he said was in addition to putting in place the Jamaica Dairy Development Board, which has as one of its achievements, the publication of dairy facts and figures to assist farmers.
He also noted that a $16.5 million ice cream manufacturing and marketing project for the JDFF has been approved for funding by the ASSP, which will contribute approximately $10.8 million to the project.
Some 31 farmers from the Co-operative are to benefit from the use of the equipment, which is expected to improve the Co-operative’s yields from its present production of 2.4 million litres to 6.1 million litres of milk by the end of five years.
The Co-operative, which was established in 1968, now operates with a total of 2,360 heads of cattle on 800 hectares of land, and supplies milk to the local market.
The ASSP was set up in January 2001 as a four-year project, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Jamaica at a cost of US$31.5 million with a mandate to enhance competitiveness of the Jamaican agricultural sector and to minimize the challenges posed by globalization.