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Association to Govt on importation of cows: Fix dairy farming first

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
President of the Farmers Association of T&T Shiraz Khan holds up documents in support of his claim during yesterday’s news conference. At left is Fitun secretary Akins Vidale. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

President of the Farmers Association of T&T Shiraz Khan is calling on Government to fix important issues in relation to dairy farming before attempting to import cows to T&T. These issues include improving infrastructure on farms, giving land tenure to farmers and increasing the amount paid to farmers for their milk production.


Khan made that call yesterday at a press conference at the Communications Workers Union Hall, Port-of-Spain. He added: “They are going to bring some expensive cows in this country and one-third of that will be paid for by farmers and a lot of the farmers don’t want the cows because they do not have land tenure. “The infrastructure has not improved for decades and most importantly the price of milk have not been dealt with adequately.” 


The Ministry of Food Production released information last week that Government, through a partnership with Nestle T&T, would import dairy cows and distribute to farmers who would be encouraged to use scientific means to increase production. Farmers produce five per cent of the milk consumed in T&T. The release said the aim was to increase milk production and satisfy local demand by 2015.


Khan said farmers were not being paid adequately for supply of milk to Nestle and would lose even more money if forced to pay for imported cows while the price of milk remained stagnant. He said since 2000, Nestle had paid $3.88 a litre to farmers for milk, and while the cost for farmers to produce milk had raised, Nestle continued to pay farmers the same price. He added: “The Government isn’t subsidising farmers, they are subsidising Nestle. The farmer is making a penny on every litre of milk sold.”


Khan said in 2006, a cost-of-production survey was done by the Ministry of Agriculture indicating that cost of production to farmers had risen to between four and six dollars. He said today the cost of production was around eight dollars. “Isn’t the right thing to do to give the farmer a fair price?” he asked. Farmer Nandalal Narinelal said Nestle was not treating the farmers fairly. Khan said the farmers were not consulted about the decision to import cows. 


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