Almost 10 per cent growth in milk production
New product development and innovative practices in the dairy industry resulted in an almost 10 per cent increase in the nation's fresh milk production last year.
State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Franklin Witter, said Jamaica produced 12.4 million litres of milk in 2022, which is an improvement of 1.1 million litres over the 11.3 million litres produced in 2021. He was addressing a World Milk Day function at the Sydney Pagan STEM Academy in St Elizabeth on June 1.
Witter credited the development to the ongoing programmes and activities of the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) to promote and encourage demand for fresh milk.
The most recent initiative, he said, was a Seed and Forest Seminar and Workshop held in February at the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine aimed at promoting best practices for the successful establishment of pastures and fodder banks to improve nutrients for dairy cattle.
The event involved partnership with the ministry's Research and Development Division, the University of Florida and Tropical Seeds.
"The pasture development programme, to date, has covered 90 acres of high-yield and high-quality nutritious fodder throughout the island," Witter indicated.
He noted that the JDDB'S National Livestock Generic Improvement and Breeding Programme, which is aimed at diversifying and enhancing the stock of animals, has been reaping success.
"The dairy board has completed its first year of the programme and is currently in the second year of activities. During the programme's first year, over 233 animals were inseminated with a conception rate of over 40 per cent for dairy, 466 per cent for beef and 37 per cent for goats," he informed.
Witter hailed small and large-scale dairy farmers for their continued contribution to the advancement of the sector, and said that despite the challenges, dairy farmers have remained resilient.
"The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about our dairy is our dedicated and hard-working dairy producers. They are indeed the backbone of this industry," he said.
"... As of February, we have a population of 76 dairy farmers. It might sound small, but these farmers have a milking herd of over 6,000 cows spanning over 8,300 acres dedicated to dairy farming," Witter noted.
"As we see the improvement, I implore us to continue in terms of our new innovations and practices. As the market for fresh milk steadily increases, we can be confident that the state of the dairy industry is in safe hands," he added.