Get young people involved in dairy sector, says Deslandes
DERRICK DESLANDES, chairman of the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB), is calling for young people to be guided and coaxed into giving greater support and being more involved in the development of Jamaica’s agricultural sector, including the dairy production sector.
Addressing Wednesday’s official handover of a mobile milking machine to the Sydney Pagon STEM Academy in Braes River, St Elizabeth, Deslandes said that one strategy being employed to encourage greater youth participation in agriculture is the development of dairy-production facilities in schools.
“One of the key goals of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in our rebuilding of the dairy industry is to target schools that had dairy facilities, because we think that is important to reconnect at that level. We have to identify all those schools and work to rebuild them, because the growth and future of agriculture in Jamaica is with our young people,” said Deslandes, who is also president of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education.
“For those who are raising animals, food prices for your animals have jumped more than 50 per cent in the last year, and it is going to get worse. So, we have to connect our young people to the soil, to the dream of agriculture,” Deslandes added.
The JDDB chairman said one avenue that schools could explore in the dairy industry is the production of goat milk. He was echoing a suggestion by veterinarian, Dr Michael Motta, last year January that dairy goats should be included in Jamaica’s livestock plan as a complementary enterprise to boost national milk production.
IMPORTANT FOR THE GROWING INDUSTRY
“For schools that are interested in goat milk, that is an emerging industry in Jamaica, and it has tremendous potential. So, it is certainly an area that we are encouraging schools to get into, because we feel it has an important aspect of growing the industry,” said Deslandes.
“Thirty years ago, the dairy industry used to produce 40 million litres of milk, but through a combination of events which led to importation of milk powder, we have not been able to keep pace with the global growth and development of the industry. But critical to that process of redevelopment (of the dairy industry) is our school system,” Deslandes added. “We are now in the middle of the agricultural revolution, and globally, there is no better example of a revolution than in the dairy sector.”
It was reported in December 2019 that the local dairy industry was being prepared to benefit from growth demand for fresh milk by developing countries. At that time, it was projected that there would be a 22 per cent increase in global milk production by 2027.
In the meantime, Franklin Witter, the minister of state in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said that young people must be recruited into supporting the dairy sector due to their youth-given strength and energy.
“There is always a consistent demand for dairy products, including milk which is considered as one of the most complete foods. It is essential that Jamaica reaches a level where it is able to once again efficiently capitalise and satisfy the local market and the local demand for milk products,” said Witter.
“If we are to do so, purposefully and effectively, then it will require the involvement and support of our young people. It is very important that we ensure that the young people are engaged in agricultural practice, because they are the ones with the energy and the strength to move agricultural production forward.”