For the first time, there is positive news about milk production in the Fiji dairy industry. The “green shoots” of recovery can be attributed in large part to the recent 14% rise in the milk price paid to the farmer,” said Simon Cole, Chairman of Fiji Co-operative Dairy Company Limited (FCDCL).
In addition, said Mr Cole, farmers have benefited from the ongoing extension advice provided through the Fiji Dairy Industry Development Initiative funded by the Government of New Zealand and continuing support from the Government of Fiji.
“With the additional income, farmers can at last see a reason to invest time, effort and funding into their farms; prior to the increase, money was not available for development,” he said.
Mr Cole said that recovery will be slow, but we are seeing average production per cow at 6.5 litres of milk this year, as opposed to 5 litres in 2018. Increased production requires a better understanding of the management of a cow through a lactation. This is the quickest way to produce more milk.
“We also need to rebuild the herd” he said.
Initiatives are underway to improve calf production and farmers must look at ways of bringing non-productive cows (not pregnant) back into production.
Hardest hit have been the larger suppliers with lower total production reflecting the high percentage of cows lost. Smaller farms have not lost so many cows and their total production has not declined in 2019.
“But full recovery will take time, bovine tuberculosis has already required the slaughter of a substantial number of cows and, although we expect to see a decline in these losses in the coming years, it could be as many as 5 years before we can fully control the disease.”