Barbados’ milk production is in for a major boost with the importation of 159 pregnant heifers from the United States.
The cows, which are part of a multi-million dollar project between the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and the Barbados Beef and Dairy Producers Association, facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) today.
The animals which arrived on two flights imported from Strickland Ranch and Export Inc, were checked by vets and have gone into quarantine.
BAS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Paul told members of the media that the importation of the cows was a must since the country’s milk production is not where it should be due to shrinking herd.
Paul said the current national milk output stands at about 2 million kilograms, which is way below what is required and normally produced.
“We within the BAS are making a special effort to work with the farmers to see if we can improve on milk production. The last one we did jointly was in 2016.
“We recognise that to get an increase it takes over two years to get cows up to where they should be. Over 159 animals will be coming in today, and we are hoping to see as a result of that, an increase in milk production acknowledging the fact that there will always be threats of imports,” Paul said.
The CEO explained that four farmers will benefit from the project funded through a loan of close to $1.3 million from the Republic Bank of Canada and a contribution from Pine Hill Dairy.
Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir said despite the COVID-19 pandemic his ministry has been working with stakeholders to move agriculture forward.
Weir commended the BAS for working with dairy farmers to reach this critical juncture in the effort to improve milk production.
The Minister pledged Government’s support and commitment to working with the farmers to help them mitigate the drought conditions since the production of milk depends on a good water supply.
“With these 84 heifers coming in now and another 75 tonight, all in calf, we should be able then to at least increase above 20 per cent to be able then to see the ramp up in production. I want to state that I have met with the dairy farmers and they have all shared their concerns with me and there are a couple of things that we can’t get away from at this moment.
“We are in extreme drought conditions and therefore we would want to make sure that we do everything possible that these heifers, when in quarantine, are in the best of condition so that we would not lose any of the potential births,” Weir said.
Once again, Weir made a call to Barbadians to become involved in projects to help grow the agricultural sector.
“There are options available in dairy farming and we can now look to dairy farming to increase the production of yogurts and cheeses. And equally we can also look to dairy farming where we can produce more flavoured milk for consumption in Barbados.
“There is a lot of potential available to us. It is a question of how we go forward using it. I want to say to all Barbadians that the ministry is here to facilitate them but I want to see more projects coming forward as well. Because the more projects we have, the faster we will get the growth rate going,” Weir said. [email protected]
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