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JIS News

Improving Goat Production in the island was the focus of an exposition hosted by the Goat Breeders Society of Jamaica recently at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
In a JIS News interview, Chief Livestock Research Officer and Head of the Small Ruminant Research Unit at Bodles, David Miller said the expo was aimed at helping farmers and other interested parties enhance goat production through improved goat husbandry.
“The show is focusing on goat improvement through technology and advanced breeding techniques. We do the research here at the Bodles station. We look at breeding work, we look at nutrition studies and we pass on the information from our findings to the farming community through the extension services, RADA and other bodies like that,” he said.
Mr. Miller also said that persons had access to information at the expo on various breeds of goats, including the Anglo Nubian goat, the Boer goat which is the popular goat for meat, a new breed to Jamaica the Lamancha, an excellent milk producer, and cross bred goats, which is one of the breeding programmes being targeted in Jamaica to improve the local goat’s musculature.
He also said that artificial insemination in goats would be looked at and recipes for goat meat, including jerk and curried goat were on display.
Mr. Miller mentioned that the Goat Breeders Society is carrying on the drive to introduce all the new technologies at Bodles to the farmers through training programmes on their farms and at Bodles.Speaking at the opening ceremony, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Senator Norman Grant highlighted the need for farmers to produce more goats in order to make the island self sufficient in goat meat production.
He pointed out that data collected by the Ministry of Agriculture suggested that while some 3.3 million kilograms of meat was produced between 1997 and 2002, in excess of 3.6 million kilograms of meat had to be imported for that period amounting to expenditure of $244.3 million.
“The growth population now stands at 500,000 in the island. This figure actually doubled since 1987 from 247,000. Although the increase in goat production is well noted, the industry needs 2.5 million goats to make the island self sufficient in goat meat. The growth population therefore needs to be increased five times in order to block imports entering the market,” he said.
He also highlighted the work of the Ministry, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the European Union (EU) in improving the productivity in the goat industry.
Mr. Miller said the Agriculture Ministry’s efforts also involved breeding work at the Hounslow and Montpelier Research Stations; the National Sheep and Goat Project; the Goat Commercialisation Project, and a cross breeding project.
He also said IICA had instituted the Goat Aforestry Production Systems (GAPS) to introduce modern, appropriate technologies associated with goat production, improve the managerial and technical capabilities of farmers and to add value to the production of goat meat.
He said CARDI had embarked on a project to cut and package goat meat to allow farmers to sell the cuts at higher prices while the European Union continued to provide funding and other technical support.
He noted that to date achievements in the industry included a reduction in the kid mortality rate from as high as 35 per cent to five per cent and an increase in the weaning weight for the market, which is now 80 to 100 pounds within eight to 10 months instead of over a four year period.