FIJI: Dairy farmers in the Western Division can now look forward to ways of improving livestock feed from sugar cane tops through a two-year project at Sorokoba Village, Ba.
Interim Agriculture Minister Jainend Kumar said the annual consumption of milk was about 80million litres with about 10-12million litres of milk produced locally while the rest was imported.
Mr Kumar made the comments while launching the Livestock Feed Project, which he described as an historic occasion for the farmers in the west.
"Despite the fact that we have the best breed in the country, we still don't seem to have produced its genetic potential," he said.
"Making animal feed from cane tops is something that has only been practiced in more developed sugar-producing countries and for this project to be initiated in the West, is something that farmers will definitely look forward to.
"What we are now trying to do is get these machines to get the cane tops baled, put into the factory for chaffing and constitute this into feed for dairy cows.
"This project is aimed at producing livestock feed which is able to provide appropriate nutrition to dairy cows with the view to supplementing the current feed to yield higher milk and butter-fat content per cow. With the blessings of the Tui Ba, Ratu Sairusi Nagagavoka, we hope to achieve a lot from this project. This projects also gels in with the dairy diversification program of the ministry."
Mr Kumar said with the necessary feed and supplement, the ministry hoped to achieve an improved quantity and quality of milk in the country.
Farm Estate Enterprises Limited chairman, Surendra Sharma, who is responsible for the project, said it would need a lot of support from farmers in the cane belt areas.
"The project aims to spread the income distribution benefits related to the supply and processing aspects of feed-manufacturing to the widest possible participation," he said.
"The cost of the feed is to be structured to allow a fair return to the dairy farmer from the increased milk yield while ensuring the least foreign exchange leakage in the form of imports of raw material for livestock feed."
Mr Sharma said the supply, collection and storage of sugarcane tops during crushing season to enable uninterrupted feed production throughout the year was crucial to the project and would begins in Ba.