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Goat farmers in Manchester were sensitised about all aspects of goat rearing at a seminar, organised by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), at its offices in Mandeville, Manchester on June 16.
The farmers were provided with information on areas such as nutritional and health issues affecting goats; the effects of feeding grains as a supplemental feed on small ruminants and goat production; and constraints affecting the production of goat meat. There was also a presentation by the People’s Co-operative Bank on how to access loans to start or develop farming ventures.
Animal Productionist from the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Albert Fearon, made a presentation to the farmers on health and nutritional issues which affect goats and how to identify and remedy them. He also gave information on trends and opportunities available in goat farming.
One of the trends identified is that 90 per cent or half a billion of the world’s goats are in developing countries and are becoming increasingly important as producers of meat, milk, hides and other by-products, hence the need for increased production through selection and crossbreeding; improving the genetic potential for growth; and improving nutrition and management practices to enhance the reproductive rate and kid survival.
Mr. Fearon said that small ruminant (sheep and goat) production is a major factor in regional development, hence there is scope for breeding stock and other products within the region as well as the marketing of goat milk and meat as health food.
He said the Government is giving special attention to the development of the small ruminant sector, with input from the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, coupled with a proposed state-of-the-art processing facility at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in St. Catherine.
Mr. Fearon pointed out that studies have indicated that meat producing goats and sheep, such as the Boer and Dorper, respectively, can make the sector profitable for farmers, and can help to satisfy the huge demand for the meat locally and in the region.
He said that the objectives are to increase the goat population to 2.5 million; improve marketing by producing value-added products, such as specialised cuts, leather, milk and cheese; export to the region and to Central America; and to attract new persons to the sector.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Goat Farmers Association, Derrick Vermont, told the farmers that “it is better to get the knowledge and then start goat rearing than start and do not have the knowledge.”
“Right now we are supplying only 16 per cent of the goat meat that we eat in Jamaica. The other 84 per cent is imported and it is not goat meat. We are spending $700 million to import goat meat and we need 2.5 million goats to be self sufficient,” he said.