Nestle honours local dairy farmers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dairy farmer Praim Singh, right, receives an award for Most Improved Farmer Quality from Nestle’s business executive officer Richard Seetaram at an awards ceremony at Nestle, Valsayn, on April 6. – Photo by Roger Jacob

DOZENS of dairy farmers were recognised by their biggest client, Nestle, on April 6 when the company hosted an awards ceremony and open day on its Valsayn compound, to celebrate them.

Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Avinash Singh delivered an address praising Nestle for its corporate responsibility model and for the relationship between itself and the local fresh milk suppliers.

“Corporate responsibility to many is just talk,” Singh said. “Nestle, with the 60 years of your presence, are the most dedicated, hard-working staff that I have seen in my years at the Ministry of Agriculture. Nestle’s commitment to the local dairy sector has been nothing short of transformative,” he said.

“Through their Dairy Development Plan, Nestle is on a path to boost local milk production by encouraging regenerative agricultural practices and improving dairy cattle genetics as well as significantly contributing to reducing the carbon footprint of dairy farming.”

Singh described the US$110,000 model farm at Turure, near Sangre Grande built just over a year ago as “a beacon of modernity and efficiency” and a ”testament to what all our farmers can achieve if we work together.”

The farm in Turure is intended to be used as a model for other farmers to learn of ideas and alternative processes that could lead to improved conditions for the cattle and greater output.

Dairy farmer Dhanmati Kaladeen receives an award from Nestle’s business executive officer Richard Seetaram at an awards ceremony held at the Nestle, Valsayn on April 6. – Photo by Roger Jacob

“Nestlé’s unwavering support in financing, infrastructure development, and providing technical expertise is a shining example of corporate responsibility and a partnership that the government deeply cherishes.

He said the ministry, led by Minister Kazim Hosein, has been proactive in supporting Trinidad and Tobago’s dairy farmers.

“Through targeted interventions with the Livestock and Livestock Products Board, such as dairy training seminars and research to make advancements in artificial insemination, we are laying down the foundations for a future where our dairy industry is not only thriving but leading by example.”

Singh reminded the farmers about their opportunity to receive financial support under the Agro-Incentive Grant, which provides access to up to $100,000 for upgrades and other business needs.

He said, “Our suite of over 92 incentives under the Agricultural Incentive Programme acts as a catalyst for the development of a modern and technologically driven agriculture sector.

“Our focus remains on enhancing farm efficiency, adopting modern technologies, and ensuring the sustainability of our agricultural practices.”

Singh said he envisions a future in which TT’s dairy sector can meet the high demands for fresh milk and become a “beacon of excellence and sustainability” in the region.

Nestle business executive officer Richard Seetaram said the company’s relationship with local dairy farmers has been the cornerstone of its success.

“It is through the invitation from our first prime minister Dr Eric Williams, and through public and private sector partnership, that our local dairy industry was planted in the ‘60s.

“From those very beginnings to the present day, Nestlé has stood shoulder to shoulder with local dairy farmers, working hand in hand to nurture and expand our dairy operations.”

He said this was expressed in the rebranding of the new Proud Land brand of locally sourced milk.

Nestle, he added, recognises the hard work and commitment of the farmers, “who have persevered and invested to sustain and grow our undeniably important local dairy industry.”

Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Avinash Singh, right, speaks with Nestle’s business executive officer Richard Seetaram and the company’s corporate communication’s manager Siti James-Gordon at an awards ceremony held at the Nestle, Valsayn on April 6. – Photo by Roger Jacob

Seetaram said Nestle’s collaboration with key stakeholders, including the ministry, has been instrumental in implementing initiatives to support local dairy farmers.

Over the years, Nestle’s farmer training programmes have focused on best practices in animal husbandry, pasture management, and milk quality control, empowering local farmers with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance productivity and efficiency on their farms, he said.

“However, there is more to be done,” he said, including the “basics” to improve efficiency.

Farmers were awarded according to different volumes, quality of milk, “most improved farmer” and other categories.