Israeli company, DDL to establish ‘most advanced’ dairy farm in the Caribbean

- more than 200 to get jobs

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By Vishani Ragobeer

LR Group, an Israeli company, is seeking to establish the Caribbean region’s most advanced dairy farm in Guyana and produce more than four million litres of milk annually.

The establishment of this dairy farm is being done in collaboration with Guyana’s Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), which is already expected to begin selling packaged milk from this month.

And, Joseph Harrosh, the Director of the LR Group, explains that the Israeli company is making this investment because it believes Guyana is ‘ripe’ for agricultural development.

“… there is plenty of water, very fertile land, good climate and it can be (the) breadbasket for the whole CARICOM region,” Harrosh said during an exclusive interview with the News Room on Friday night.

He added, “This is a place where we can invest, we can form joint ventures, partnerships and develop together.”

Harrosh visited Guyana for a few days before he left on Saturday. During that time, he met with a number of key stakeholders to advance the dairy farm project.

Already, the LR group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DDL; it is expected that the two companies will collaborate in a number of areas.

But, Harrosh emphasised, “This will be the first project for the development of the most advanced dairy farm in the region which would produce between four to five million litres of milk per year, including all of the processing products- yogurt, cheese and others.”

Importantly, he said that the dairy farm could employ more than 200 people, including many private cattle farmers who would supply fresh cow milk to the farm.

As part of the MoU as well the two companies are working on a feasibility study to determine the most appropriate location for the dairy farm. To this end, it was explained that drainage, access to electricity and proximity to a road network are among some of the considerations.

TOPCO MILK

It has been reported that Guyana imports about US $25 million in milk products annually. But, Tropical Orchard Products Company Limited (TOPCO), a subsidiary of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), is expected to produce locally-made milk from this month.

The company will start selling reconstituted milk, which, simply, is produced by adding water to the dried or concentrated form of drinking milk (that is, milk powder).

As the company continues to sell these products, however, it aims to use fresh cow’s milk for pasteurisation and packaging. Pasteurisation is the process of heating raw milk to remove any pathogens (bacteria or viruses that can cause diseases) from it.

Because of this anticipated transition to pasteurise and package cow’s milk, instead of using the imported powdered milk, DDL is eager for the creation of this dairy farm.

“By early next year, we expect to have a technical team from the LR group to basically finalise those more technical requirements (of the feasibility study),” DDL’s Government Affairs Consultant Wesley Kirton told the News Room.

The company expects that the feasibility study would be completed by early next year. And, by mid-2022, work ahead of the construction of the dairy farm should get underway.

CARICOM MARKET

Beyond tackling the country’s costly import of milk products, Kirton believes that this dairy farm could penetrate the CARICOM market. This CARICOM market, according to CARICOM Today News, has an annual food import bill of about US $5 billion.

But penetrating this market may require some adjustments in CARICOM’s common external tariffs on products to help make the Guyanese milk exported to the Caribbean a bit more competitive.

This external tariff is a single tariff rate (a tax or duty) agreed to by all members of the CARICOM community on imports of a product from outside the community.

In the context of milk production, the region imports most of its milk and with the potential addition of the Guyanese milk to the market, that tariff would help to make sure that the cost of Guyana’s milk is competitive alongside the imported milk.

“We have already made the point to the government because CARICOM is pushing food security, self-sufficiency where possible and we are serious about that,” Kirton underscored.

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