SUVA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Fiji faces a major shortage of locally produced milk due to the recent outbreak of brucellosis and tuberculosis (TB).
Fiji Cooperative Dairy Company Limited Chief Executive Kushmendra Prasad said Tuesday the local dairy industry is fighting a battle as approximately half of the cattle have been removed from farms, leading to a reduction in the production level, he said, adding that the production fell from nine million liters to 5.2 million liters.
He said the production of fresh milk has been on the decline for about seven years and the recent outbreak has resulted in increased cost of production in running farms.
Meanwhile, local media reported that Fijian consumers said they're being affected by the increased price of locally produced milk and associated products as they have children at home who consume milk on a daily basis.
Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture had earlier tested 33,839 cattle for Bovine Tuberculosis and more than 1,000 cattle tested positive.
Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy said last month that the government has recruited five veterinarians who are working to actively pursue the eradication of TB and brucellosis in beef and dairy cattle.
A total of 262 dairy farmers currently supply milk under the Fiji Cooperative Dairy Company Limited while there are over 1000 other dairy farmers who conduct their own operations.
A local dairy farmers group Northland Farmers Cooperative Chair Hirday Lakhan reportedly said that foreign milk brands were taking over shelf space in the supermarkets because of the shortage of local supplies.
Lakhan said while there is a shortfall in local milk production, increased reliance on imported processed milk will negatively impact Fijian farmers.