By Narendra Sookdeo
Agricultural Services Manager
“Did you eat today? Thank a farmer.”
This is one of my favourite quotes, and one that immediately shows the direct impact farmers have on our lives. Unfortunately, the dairy farming industry in Trinidad and Tobago has been declining over the past 20 years.
The number of farmers that we collect milk from has
dropped 54% in the last 15 years
Farming has become a less desirable career option for our younger generations. One reason for this is the intense daily commitment and sacrifice that being a dairy farmer requires. As our farmers say, “our animals don’t take weekends or vacation… neither do we. We are out there twice a day, every day, 365 days of the year.”
Another reason is the challenges that local farmers face. These can vary from implementing the latest farm management best practices to increasing yield while respecting the environment.
This is where we believe we can make a tangible difference.
We work closely with our local farmers and provide guidance on farm hygiene practices, animal health and welfare, feeding, breeding and safety.
Improving quality for all
With better practices, farmers can continuously improve milk quality and increase volumes while respecting our commitment on farm animal welfare.
A good measure of milk quality is Total Plate Count (TPC) levels. Lower TPC levels mean higher quality milk, and farmers receive bonuses based on the TPC levels in their milk.
In 2017, we conducted trainings focused on improving quality in the areas of the cow, the milker, the milking area, utensils and cooling; helping farmers understand how they could achieve lower TPC levels and therefore higher bonuses for their milk.
This included making each farmer’s TPC results visible to him/her weekly. Every week, we collect milk samples from our farmers and take them to our lab, where they are tested and the TPC results provided to them later that week at no cost to the farmer. This improves our farmer’s visibility on how changes or implementations of new practices affect their milk quality, and helps us ensure quality.
In 2018, we continued working closely with our farmers through weekly coaching. Their consistent championing of best practices and perennial love for what they do throughout the year led to sustained high quality milk; the freshest local milk that is the preferred taste of T&T.
Today we take a moment to honour the skills, passion and dedication of our trusted local farmers who meet our standards, professionally manage their family farms and are committed to continuous improvement for long-term growth.
We remain fully committed to our farmers.
The Farmers Awards recognizes the famers in each of our five farming areas who produced the highest quality milk in 2018, under the categories small, medium and large farms.
Best Farmer Overall in Trinidad 2018
Mr. Ramsingh Sankarsingh
Best Small Farmer: Supplying <10,000kg milk per year
Wallerfield: Mr. Neil Karim
Turure: Mr. Henley Campbell
Charlieville: Mr. Ramsingh Sankarsingh
Carlsen Field: Mr. Joseph Ganess
Woodland: Mr. Zynool Khan
Best Medium Farmer: Supplying 10,000kg-20,000kg milk per year
Wallerfield: Mr. Anthony James
Turure: Mr. Hamzard Mohammed
Charlieville: Mr. Sukraj Lutchman
Carlsen Field: Ms. Korisha & Sharima Badrallie
Best large Farmer: Supplying >20,000kg milk per year
Wallerfield: Mr. Paul De Four JR.
Turure: Mr. Lennard and Peter Fernandez
Charlieville: Mrs. Salisha Sayneeram-Ramnath
Carlsen Field: Satish Heera