The dairy industry in Trinidad is declining rapidly, with the supply of milk from dairy farmers reduced from 11,000 metric tonnes to 2,000 metric tonnes per year in just the past two years.
This, according to Farouk Mohammed, a director of the Livestock and Livestock Products Board.
He said the supply of milk produced locally did not meet consumer demand and greater incentives are needed if the industry is to survive.
Mohammed made the point while addressing dairy farmers at the national consultation on the livestock sector in Trinidad and Tobago held on Monday at the Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas.
Speaking on the issues affecting the dairy and beef cattle sector, Mohammed said: "Out of the four dairy stations established, three went out of existence and the only one operating is the UWI station that produces pasteurised milk."
He said the projection for the future of the industry was a constant decline both in milk production and the supply of beef for the local market.
He said imported milk powder was largely responsible for the decline in milk production.
"What is needed is an increase in the imported tariff so that dairy farmers would be encouraged to produce more milk."
Mohammed said a cause of the decline was that children of the farmers were not interested in farming and this has resulted in the farms being abandoned.
"Farmers' children are not showing any interest in farming and even the parents who own the farms do not want their children to become farmers," said Mohammed.
"What is needed at this time is a change in the school curriculum which should include farming as a subject."
Mohammed said the industry was also being hurt by the price of animal feed which has risen recently by 21 per cent.
"What is needed urgently is greater incentives if the industry is to compete with imported beef from Australia and New Zealand," he said.
Mohammed said there was an increase in the number of cattle which roamed the streets regularly, causing danger to residents.
"Our recommendation to Government is to have all animals stamped with a number and the name of the farm from which they belong so that whenever they are caught on the roads the owners could be held responsible for any damage."