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Orgy in The Pine after honeymoon


Richard Hoad

Orgy in The Pine after honeymoon

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THE TROUBLE WITH MARRIAGE is that, whereas in the early years the partners strive desperately to get in as much as possible, in later years some try just as desperately to get out all they can.
Thus it was that in 1966, four entities came together in holy matrimony. There was the Barbados Government, the Bajan dairy farmers, the New Zealand Dairy Board and Northern Dairies of England.
Our Government was the facilitator, the Bajan dairy farmers saw a chance to build a viable industry, New Zealand Dairies wanted to sell powdered milk and Northern Dairies, it is said, wanted to offload some equipment. The Newzies reportedly laughed when they saw the existing Bajan dairy herds. Not a pleasant laugh, but it was a beautiful marriage nonetheless.
The Canadians upset the Newzie applecart somewhat by setting up a revolving fund with low interest rates for farmers to buy dairy cows from Canada. Dairying mushroomed.
The Pine Hill Dairy (PHD) was one of the best-run operations anywhere. We were told that the law stipulated that farmers must sell their milk to PHD, while PHD was obligated to take all milk from farmers.
I bought Old Banfield’s cow Nancy and contacted Mr Barrie-Smith, the PHD general manager. He put me in his car and we drove to the St Hill farm in St John to see the standards required. Barrie-Smith advised me to get some more cows and by the next week I was a dairy supplier. They loved us dairy farmers in those days.
The honeymoon was long and enjoyable. But then PHD wanted to put Bajan farmers on a quota system although unlimited quantities of New Zealand powder were being imported to make “evaporated” (actually it’s partially reconstituted) milk.
At which point I bowed out, realizing that we farmers were just taking a monthly cheque from Pine Hill and giving it to Roberts Manufacturing. Every few years they would give a slight price increase. A few months later, Roberts would increase feed prices and take it back.
Like Independent Barbados after 46 years, the Barbados dairy industry is now a battered and abused housewife. From the glory days when the Hope Dairy was the showpiece to visiting heads like General Yakubu Dan-Yumma Gowon of Nigeria and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana, she is now on her knees.
The Trinis now own both PHD and Roberts. With free access to Trini milk products in Barbados, it seems unlikely they want a Bajan industry to compete with their own.
Farmers have been phoning me for advice on bottles, barcodes and regulations for selling their milk directly to supermarkets. Hate to tell them, but the Trinis also own the major supermarket chain and reserve most of the refrigerated dairy shelf space for Trini-owned products which require no refrigeration.
So what can Bajan farmers do if Pine Hill won’t take their milk? Cheese is not an option in the short term. Casaro Cheeses tried it. They gave me a lot of their equipment after abandoning the idea. Cottage cheese is easy to make. But 600 gallons of milk will produce 600 pounds of cheese. Try getting rid of that within a week. In fact, you can’t even give away any sizeable quantity of milk.
PHD could use all our excess milk and more in evaporated milk. They say they would lose money. Maybe they really mean they wouldn’t make as much. I don’t know.
So, first, we need to break the Trini stranglehold. Rather than farmers all trying to produce and market their own product, we need a milk plant processing genuine fresh milk, which is what people want.
Secondly, we need to produce cheaper milk by improving fodder to reduce reliance on imported feed. Dairying is a great industry for Barbados, and milk is a great food for humans.
In not many years recently we have seen the demise of several foreign-owned businesses with considerable loss of jobs and revenue – Paradise Beach, Almond, Sam Lord’s, CLICO estates – to name a few. Whether this is coincidence or part of a wider agenda, I don’t know.
But unless Bajans wake up and save the local dairy industry, it will be one more nail in the coffin of the country we love so much.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email [email protected]

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