$50M mini milk pasteurisation plant launched By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
February 15, 2002

"Milk from the cow to you," that was how the new $50 million mini milk pasteurisation plant at Dantzig/Columbia on the East Coast Demerara (ECD), was recognised at yesterday's official commissioning ceremony attended by dignitaries and special invitees.

The small-scale plant, to be eventually owned and operated by the Mahaica/Mahaicony Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society, will see farmers in that community, having all their available milk supply pasteurised for domestic consumption.

With a capacity of 70 litres per hour the pasteurisation plant will produce a wholesome product that could stand up to strict purification standards.

The milk, which is also being developed in two flavours -- vanilla and strawberry -- will have a shelf life of up to 14 days from the date of delivery to supermarket shelves.

Launching the facility, Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds called the venture a great step in restoring the local dairy sector.

According to the PM with traditional crops facing tremendous difficulties, the need to diversify the economy was even more critical to allow for a better standard of living. Noting the scale of the enterprise, Hinds saw it as an example to be emulated at all levels of society if the development thrust was to be achieved.

Small enterprises, the PM added, were being overlooked as efforts were made to venture into large-scale undertakings, some of which were never fully capitalised. He noted that small-scale ventures had greater advantages for closer contact between the producers and customers ensuring a rapid response to their concerns.

Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh, who termed the event a landmark stated that it was the first time that a cattle breeding area would be producing the pasteurised product.

Recognising the benefits to the local dairy farmers, the minister said it was his dream to see the project repeated in other communities. He cautioned farmers against allowing petty squabbles to cause the facility to end up as a white elephant. He urged them to use it as an example to be emulated by others in the sector.

He again called on persons to support homegrown products as a way of creating jobs while boosting the well-being of those in the sector.

Other contributions to the afternoon programme came from Partners of the Americas/Guyana Dairy Development Programme Head, Dr Hector Munoz, who termed the event a proud and satisfying one for dairy farmers throughout the country and particularly in the immediate community.

He saw the realisation of one of the farmers' goals as helping with the improvement of the nutritional content in the diets of all Guyanese especially children, 200 of whom, from schools in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice) will receive a daily glass of milk courtesy of the GDDP, from next week. This programme is being undertaken in collaboration with the ministries of health and education. The milk will be purchased from the Dantzig plant.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative with responsibility for Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, David Bowen, alluded to the months of collaboration between Sawh, his agency and the project coordinator to make the project a success.

Bowen expressed the hope that the assistance given by the FAO in making the facility a reality would aid in stimulating farmers to make headway in the sector.

Earlier, Project Coordinator, Timothy McIntosh, in his outline of the project stated that the facility was the result of 18 months of continuous effort. He noted the inputs of the Social Impact Amelioration Programme in its establishment.

Milk, according to McIntosh, was collected from farmers, processed and distributed mainly to residents in the immediate community. The plant, which McIntosh described as using simple technology, is a model for other groups interested in venturing into such production. The project will formally conclude in June and will be handed over to the farmers' co-op society. Farmers will first capture the immediate coastal market prior to venturing to the wider marketplace. According to McIntosh, they will face the challenge of maintaining a viable product, which could compete with others who are going to enter the game including foreign products.

The four staff members of the facility are currently undergoing training in processing and testing techniques.