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Supply declines

Filipe Naigulevu
Thursday, November 09, 2017

A NOTABLE decline in total milk supply to major factories continues to be experienced by a small dairy farmer's cooperative in Tailevu from last year to September of this year.

Waidalice Chilling Centre (WCC) farmers' cooperative chairperson Hirday Lakhan said this incurred a huge loss in income for its more than 65 cooperative members and dairy farmers at large.

Speaking at the cooperative's annual general meeting in Tailevu yesterday, Mr Lakhan said 1.7m litres was the total milk output recorded by the cooperative as of September this year.

This was compared with the 2.4m litres produced by the cooperative last year and the 2.56 litres supplied in 2015.

"We witnessed a huge decline in the total milk supplied to the factory in 2016 and last year up to September of this year," Mr Lakhan said.

"The industry used to supply between 11 and 12 million litres annually. The drop in milk supply, in reality, means a huge income loss by our members and to the dairy farmers at large."

According to the cooperative's annual report for 2017, the total milk intake at Fiji Dairy Ltd in September of this year was 5.48m litres of which 31 per cent was supplied from WCC.

"The core business activity of WCC farmers — cooperative members remains the supply of raw milk to the Fiji Dairy Ltd factory in Suva," Mr Lakhan said.

"Our bulk producer members supply their milk direct to the factory while the small holder suppliers supply their raw milk through the FCDCL from the Waidalice Chilling Centre.

"The drop in income to the farmers is in the vicinity of more than $3.2 million in a year. WCC Farmers COOP members also lost in raw milk incomes."

Mr Lakhan said one of the main reasons for the decline in milk output was the TB (bovine tuberculosis) in cattle which plagued the industry last year.

"But I believe that TB in itself is not a problem.

"TB is something that we should be eradicating," he said.

"The real problem here is the inability of our industry to replace the lost animals, so I think we should focus more on calf breeding or not we should get some livestock from overseas.

"The faster we replace them, the better."

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