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JIS News

Some 20 farmers in the southeastern Clarendon communities of Portland Cottage, Mitchell Town, Moores, Rosewell, Bois Content, and Hayes Savannah are currently participating in a Sheep and Goat project, aimed at improving the quantity and quality of meat stock produced locally.
Parish Manager of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in Clarendon, Percival Shaw told JIS News that some 20 ewes were distributed two weeks ago to the farmers and they are to receive two bucks for breeding.
“The programme is being done on a revolving basis, where we have started the programme with these farmers and after they have benefited, they will hand over the first female kid to another farmer. If the ewe does not produce a female, then the male will be sold and the money used to purchase a ewe for another beneficiary farmer,” he explained.
He pointed out that the importation of goat meat into the island has been very high and the programme is geared at reducing that level of importation.
Jasmine Holness, Deputy Director of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture told JIS News that the project would cost the Ministry of Agriculture some $50 million over a three-year period, adding that the project commenced at the beginning of this financial year.
“The project is aimed at improving the genetic stock in the country through improvement of the animals at the research location, generating new breeding stock for new and existing farmers and training farmers in sheep and goat production,” she explained.
She pointed out that the livestock is distributed to the farmers from the research stations at Bodles, Old Harbour; Hounslow, St. Elizabeth; and other facilities.
Mrs. Holness said the project also incorporated a survey on sheep and goat enterprises in Jamaica. This, she said, was to help achieve the Ministry of Agriculture’s projection to increase the sheep and goat population by about 15 per cent over the three years.
She said that estimates presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2003 have placed the number of goats in the island at about 440,000 and sheep at about 2,000.
“We are also doing this survey to have an accurate number of the stock in Jamaica as goats are stolen from time to time or farmers just fall out from the industry for various reasons,” she said.
Some 140 female goats have already been distributed, while 25 males are to be distributed, comprising Nubian and Boer cross breeds.
The project is being carried out in the parishes of Westmoreland, Trelawny, Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Clarendon with Portland set to come on board soon.
Mrs. Holness said that while no distribution of sheep has taken place as yet, the programme would continue with the purchase of new breeding stock of both sheep (Dorper and Katahdin ) and goat (Nubian and Boer ) from the USA.
“Right now we are fine tuning the import protocol for these stock between the Ministry of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so that by the end of this year to the early part of next year, over 150 animals will come into the island,” she said.