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Livestock farmers are being urged to focus more on the rearing of dual purpose animals, particularly in the provision of both milk and meat.
The charge came from Dr. Joseph Lindsay, Director of the Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine, during his address at a Goat Breeders Society exposition and workshop, held on October 1 at the station.
Dr. Lindsay also cited the potential for these animals to provide hide for the local leather industry.
He pointed out that this thrust by the Ministry of Agriculture has been on-going for the past four years, and that new breeds of goat being introduced to the local industry would assist farmers to achieve the objectives of providing more meat and milk, and realising greater profitability.
The new breeds being introduced are the larger Nubian and Boer goats. They are also being used for crossbreeding with the local stock.
“There has been a renewed emphasis on the part of the Ministry to increase the production of small ruminants, that is sheep and goats, so as to meet some of the unfilled demands for their meat,” Dr. Lindsay said.
Data from the Ministry indicated that between 1997 and 2002 some 3.6 million kilograms of mutton costing over $244 million had to be imported to meet local demand, and with the coming of the 2007 World Cup of Cricket and increases in the tourism market, the demand is set to increase.
This demand, Dr. Lindsay said, carried with it the opportunity to meet other needs, “and that is why farmers are being encouraged to focus on dual purpose animals, so as to satisfy the increasing demand for goat meat and the niche market for goat milk”.
Dr. Lindsay also pointed out that there were persons who were lactose intolerant, and could not digest cow’s milk. These people, he added, could be encouraged to use goat milk.
The campaign to increase goat production and introduce the new strain of animals is being supported by the Government, the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
The one-day exposition and workshop had on display several breeds of goat from the farmers.