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Fiji Time: 3:06 AM on Tuesday 22 April

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Dairy recovers

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, January 02, 2014

THE dairy industry in Fiji lost 640,000 litres of raw milk in 2013 after 350 cows were put to sleep as a result of contracting brucellosis.

Fiji Co-operative Dairy Company CEO Sachida Nand said this was done to stop the spread of the infectious bovine disease early last year.

Mr Nand said coupled with the lack of a proper breeding program, proper farming and lack of feed, the company still managed to achieve close to its predicted 10 million litres of milk for last year.

Mr Nand said his confidence was not based on optimism but solidly placed on the hard work of the FCDCL farmers, the company's programs now in place and farm issues that were being addressed.

"For instance, although we have lost so many milk cows, we have introduced artificial insemination as part a new breeding program that is expected to grow the herd by up to 2000 heifers within two years.

"Additionally, we are purchasing 20 bulls from the Ministry of Agriculture and will be giving them out at cost on a first come first serve basis to our farmers to further improve the breed in their herds.

"And with the Fiji National University Unifarm at Navua fully operative, a further 2000 litres of milk a day is expected to be produced to increase our overall supply.

"A significant challenge we have had to face in the past year is providing the proper feed mix as well as high protein diets essential to increase milk production.

"We have reached overseas in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to ensure a steady supply of palm kernels to replace a limited availability of copra meal."

FCDCL will soon introduce a feed mill as well as increase farm advisory unit to improve farm hygiene and lactation.