JAMAICA’S local milk production has, since 1992, consistently been on the decline, however, the dairy industry is gearing up for a revival by way of the Drink Real Milk Campaign.
Through the efforts of its four key stakeholders — the Caribbean Broilers Group (through Nutramix), Newport-Fersan Jamaica Limited, Seprod (through Serge Island) and the Jamaica Dairy Development Board — the campaign is targeted at reviving what was once a thriving industry in Jamaica.
The campaign, which was officially launched yesterday at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, saw the brainchild of the project — Nutramix — alongside the three other major sponsors sharing with the press the plans to make a change and take the dairy industry into the future.
They all outlined their solidarity for not only embracing and promoting sustainable agricultural development but also investing time and resources in order to reduce the food import bill, increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product, reduce unemployment, especially among farmers, and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign exchange.
According to Chief Operating Officer for the CB Group Matthew Lyn, the stakeholders will be bringing together their expertise from their various operations to spearhead significant changes in the industry.
Lyn highlighted the initial challenges that preceded the CB Group’s now successful egg industry and pork products, stating that the company focused only on production, neglecting the consumer side of business which resulted in slow growth.
This was before the company decided to focus on both as a “two-pronged approach” to push their products forward.
This is the same approach that will be applied to the Drink Real Milk Campaign as efforts will be shared equally at boosting production as well as consumer awareness. The CB Group representative said that coupled with the rest of the stakeholders, the campaign, which had been in development for about two years, will be a formula for success.
“Today we are here to launch a national long-term campaign, it’s more than just getting people to drink more milk, it’s more than getting people to think about reviving the dairy industry, it’s more than just better pasture management or better breeding programmes, it’s a lot more than the story here. It’s four companies coming together to do something really good for Jamaica I want to say thank you to all the partners,” Lyn told attendees.
CEO of Seprod Group of Companies, Richard Pandohie also underscored the key ideas made by Lyn, adding that Seprod is proud to have pledged its support to the campaign which he explained is a 360-degree approach targeted at reminding consumers about the health benefits of real milk as well as revitalising the industry and the economy.
“Seprod is fully committed to the national growth agenda and continues, to innovate to reduce importations; in the last two months, for example, we’ve introduced Serge Evaporated Milk, the only evaporated milk on the market with real milk, our investment in over $500 million in Serge factories and farm in the last 12 months have set the platforms for some exciting innovations over the next six months,” Pandohie said.
Business Development Manager at Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited Hedda Rose Pitter stated that while many people would not have known about the challenges faced by the dairy industry over the past 20 years, the presence of the stakeholders signified that the milk industry has not died but instead is on the verge of rebirth.
“At Fersan, we believe in sustainable agriculture and the nation’s food security and that is why we continue to lend our support to the Jamaica, agricultural sector. Our decision to be a part of the Drink Real Milk Campaign is simple, we have a pivotal role to play in the sustainability of Jamaica’s food ministry and milk is no exception,” Rose Pitter said in her remarks.
She pointed out that as the only manufacturer of fertiliser in Jamaica Fersan ensures that each day their agronomy and sales team are focused on improving productivity and ensuring that farmers use sound agricultural practices. Additionally, she stated that through their Precise Management System, programmes will be provided for optimum pasture productivity on more than 2000 acres reserved for grazing for dairy cows.
According to CEO for the Jamaica Dairy Development Board, Hugh Graham, the board once considered a generic milk campaign around 2013 but it was not yet the right time to push the industry forward. Graham highlighted that with the partnership with Drink Right Campaign there is now a growing path to push the dairy industry ahead.
“This campaign will benefit our dairy farmers who toil relentlessly to make a living, who have to put up sometimes without any sleep because they are concerned they are going to lose cows overnight. It supports the economy far more than any model that is based on importation,” Graham stated.
“The Jamaica Dairy Development Board unreservedly endorses this campaign and are proud to be named partners in this nation-building campaign with our private sector partners,” he said.