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JIS News

Two dairy farmers have expressed optimism that they will be able to restore their production to former levels, with the assistance of funds obtained under a concessionary loan facility for pasture and herd development.
The facility falls under the recently launched dairy sub-sector revitalisation project.
The two farmers, Ingram Wedderburn and Oral Rayson made the disclosure in an interview with JIS News, at a meeting of cattle farmers and Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) office in Mandeville, Manchester, on Wednesday (Nov. 5).
“I have been a dairy farmer for 16 years and at one stage I had to sell my cows to pay bills. At that time, I was selling to Nestle and was getting 16 to18 per cent less for milk, I was put on a restricted quota and began operating at a loss,” Mr. Wedderburn recounted.
He said that today, he has 40 adult cows and would use his loan to begin a process of pasture and herd upgrading, and re-building his operations. “I hope to be able to produce at a more economical cost and increase my profits,” he said, adding, “Now Nestle will buy all the milk I can produce”.
Oral Rayson the other loan recipient says he has 30 cows on his farm at present. “I intend to use my loan to get more cows and put in some infrastructure. I am looking forward to the business picking up again,” he added.
The farmers are two of a group of 24, who have received funding over the past three months, Coordinator for the Dairy Development Board, Byron Lawrence Project reports.
For the 2008 to 2009 fiscal year, the Government allocated $140 million to revitalise the dairy sector. Of that amount $52.5 million has been set aside for concessionary loans for pasture and herd development.
The ultimate aim of the programme is to increase milk production and herd expansion, and provide opportunities for sustained small farmer participation.
Other components of the revitalisation exercise include the preservation of genetic resources through streamlining of the Jamaica Hope breed of dairy cattle, and institutional support to farmers’ organisations, and farmer training.
Part of the farmer training initiatives already undertaken is the appointment of a livestock specialist, Maxine Brown, who is stationed at RADA. She was also present at the cattle farmers’ meeting. “I will be training farmers, extension officers, and making farm visits, as I work to achieve the programme’s objectives,” she told JIS News.
Dr. Tufton told cattle farmers at the meeting, that $9 million had been allocated to RADA for farmer training in animal husbandry, and that training of extension officers would start next week. He added that soon, one animal care specialist would be placed in each parish and that a training manual was also nearing completion for use in training workshops.
Ingram Wedderburn said he felt much more valued and confident as a dairy farmer. “I think the country recognises the importance of what we do and I am pleased with the present policy, as food security and health are critical”, he stressed.