By Mickella Anderson-Gordon
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Small dairy farmers in Hillside, St Thomas and its environs can now milk their cows more efficiently and under improved hygienic conditions at the newly opened communal milking parlour.
The redeveloped facility, which was officially handed over by minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining, Floyd Green, in the Hillside community on Tuesday, November 7, enables farmers to carry out milking mechanically.
Pointing out that St Thomas is home to more than 50 per cent of the nation’s small dairy farmers, who account for 53 per cent of the national amount of saleable fresh milk, the Minister said it is critical that these farmers be provided with the resources they need to operate effectively.
He noted that before the development of the parlour, farmers milked by hand outdoors and in temporary sheds and “even though they had those unfavourable conditions, they still managed to produce Grade A quality milk. Can you just imagine what will happen now with this new milking parlour ?”
“We expect that we will see further growth and advancement of our farmers. [Today], we are unveiling not just a milking parlour but a clean, sanitary space that our farmers can utilise in the milking of their animals. Now more than ever we realise that the comfort of the cow is critical to the production of milk, and as such, this milking parlour will give a much more comfortable environment for cows to be milked in,” the minister said further.
Noting that having proper storage and milking tools is also critical, the minister said that the parlour will ensure that the farmers have all they need at their fingertips. He informed that plans are in place to install solar panels, which will result in energy savings. Furthermore, the Hillside parlour will benefit from one of five bulk storage tanks that have been ordered.
In addition to the milking parlour, the ministry had previously handed over a mobile milking machine to the farmers of St Thomas to help increase productivity.
Minister Green indicated that more of these machines have been ordered and will also benefit farmers in St Ann. A milking parlour is under construction in that parish.
The minister said that the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB) continues to provide milk processing training and key hygiene and sanitisation workshops for farmers.
He lauded Serge Island Dairies, which is based in St Thomas, for not only providing a consistent market but for helping with the training of farmers and the development of dairy clusters.
For his part, chairman of the JDDB, Dr Derrick Deslandes, said that the communal milking parlour in Hillside is part of measures to “bring milk back to where it used to be”.
He pointed out that the facility is one of many to come as the JDDB is on a mission to reinvigorate the dairy industry and to have dairy farmers become more efficient and earn more money.
“We believe that if we introduce more technology into the sector, it will lead to an increase in production,” Dr Deslandes said.