Seprod invests in students to grow agriculture

July 06, 2016
Richard Pandohie, CEO of Seprod Limited.
A farming milking his cow by hand.
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Nearly two decades ago, Jamaica was producing an average of 39 million litres of cow's milk for consumption. That number fell to under 12 million litres last year.

Faced with the real prospect of a wipeout in the dairy sector, the Seprod Group of Companies has put its hands up and has decided to invest in students to drive research in agriculture.

"The farmer of today has to be an educated farmer," Richard Pandohie, CEO and managing director of Seprod, told THE STAR.

Seprod yesterday signed a memorandum of association (MOA) with the College of Agriculture, Science and Education at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

Included in the MOA is Seprod's commitment to creating opportunities for student interns to be trained in dairy farming and other areas of interest at Seprod Ltd and its subsidiaries.

The MOA is expected to run initially for a period of five years and is renewable for further five-year periods.

"It is about investing in agriculture and investing our youths," Pandohie said.

He argued that a return to serious research and development is important if agriculture is to grow.

"Farming is genuinely a science ... we need to get the productivity up," he said.

Pandohie said that in the dairy sector, for example, it is important to know things like the type of grass to feed the cows and the ways to maximise the nutrition contents of those grass. He said that getting answers to questions like those would lead to an increase in milk production.

Last year, one cow at Serge Island was producing an average seven litres of milk per day. With the help of science, the production is now up to 11 litres per cow, per day, and Pandohie said that having one cow give 15 litres of milk per day is "where it make sense."

"If we get our dairy industry going in Jamaica, we will become the dairy suppliers for CARICOM," he said.

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