JIS News

The Government is making $140 million in loans and technical support available to resuscitate the dairy sector, and to increase milk production to 55 million litres by the year 2018.
“Re-vitalization of the dairy sub-sector is a critical element of Government’s policy of enhancing food security, livelihood protection and rural development for Jamaica,” said Production Specialist at the Jamaica Dairy Development Board, Richard Miller, as he spoke at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, today (September 4).
“The goals of the programme are to increase milk production from 2007 levels of 14 million litres to 31 million litres by 2013 and 55 million litres by 2018, by increasing production and resuscitation of pastures, herd expansion, re-developing the Jamaica Hope breed of dairy cattle and achieving sustained small farmer participation,” he explained.
Mr. Miller said that loans up to a maximum of $1.5 million would be available for sole ownership farms and $2.5 million for incorporated businesses. Applications for herd development and pasture resuscitation for both dairy and beef production are eligible, he said.
For farmers to qualify for loans, they should already be in dairy farming, be registered with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), under the Government’s Farmer Registration Programme and must submit a farm development plan.
Loans to farmers would be administered by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), and loan disbursement would be through the People’s Co-operative (P-C) Bank network. Interest rates, Mr. Miller informed, would be at a rate of four per cent amortized over seven years, and equity of 20 per cent from farmers would be required.
Mr. Miller said that the maximum disbursement period would be six months and as part of the agreement, farmers would sign an irrevocable Deduction Order with the milk processor of his choice, for loan repayment. The Dairy Board, he said, would monitor farm development and authorize disbursements.
Commenting on the current state of the industry, he reported that in 2007, 14 million litres of milk were produced, while the current demand was 15 million litres per year. Mr. Miller said in conjunction with the increased production efforts, would be the incorporation of milk into the school feeding programme. This, he said, would not only reduce the consumption of sugary drinks by children, but would also satisfy the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards for protein requirement.