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Seprod Moves for Milk Industry Shake-up

22 February 2017

JAMAICA - Chief executive officer of Seprod Ltd, Richard Pandohie is prepared to invest $180 million in a drive to revitalise Jamaica’s dairy industry — but is calling for Government to create the framework for a viable sector.

According to Mr Pandohie, a private-public sector partnership plan — similar to the models adopted by the island’s pork and poultry industry — is what is needed to support talks by the Government that by 2020 the dairy industry will reduce Jamaica’s annual dairy import bill by $3.01 billion, and add approximately 1,300 jobs to the agriculture and manufacturing sector.

In a round-table conversation with the Jamaica Observer on Monday, the CEO pointed out that Seprod will invest $145 million in a heifer redeployment programme over the next three years to kick-start the revitalisation drive, in line with the Jamaica Dairy Development Board’s (JDDB) programme. The remaining sum will be spent on trucks for collection from farmers, scholarships and internship programmes.

Seprod’s return on investment will come from the milk produced by local farmers. The company hopes to provide 500 pregnant heifers to established dairy farmers.

“Essentially, the model we are looking to follow is like the pork and poultry. Jamaica is now self-sufficient in both because of investments made in the industry.

“We are prepared to take on that upfront, financial burden of the farmers and would give the farmers pregnant heifers which would cost roughly $120,000, and only when they start producing milk will we then take the milk and use part of it as payment for the animal and the rest towards other investment on the farms,” Mr Pandohie reasoned.

Ultimately, the dairy industry is targeting 24 million litres of milk production by the year 2020, up from 12.7 million litres produced in 2016. It also means that the industry needs to grow by at least 2,100 milk-producing cows over the next three years.

But Mr Pandohie is adamant that any effort by industry players could prove futile if the Government does not take swift action in putting proper infrastructure in place to support the industry growth.

Seprod is now calling on the Government to put in place and monitor an appropriate regulatory framework to help in safeguarding and stimulating the growth requirement to satisfy the objectives of and preserve the domestic market, or the wider Caricom market.

Source: Jamaica Observer

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