Many Opportunities for Farmers to Increase Goat Production – Clarke


Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke has said that many opportunities existed for farmers to increase goat production to supply the local and international markets.
“Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica for 1998 to 2003, showed a persistent shortage in the local supply of goat meat. According to that data, while just over 3.36 million kilograms of goat meat were produced locally between 1998 and 2003, just under 4.33 million kilograms had to be imported for that period to meet local demand, with expenditure amounting to some $325 million,” the Minister said.
Mr. Clarke was speaking yesterday (November 24), at the annual general meeting of the Goat Breeders’ Society of Jamaica, held at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
He pointed out that a recent study on the goat and sheep sector commissioned by the Agriculture Support Services Project (ASSP) in the Ministry of Agriculture, had highlighted the existing opportunities to increase goat production to meet consistent local and international demand, Jamaica’s superior genetic pool of goats, and the competitiveness and flexibility of the price of goat meat, which would allow farmers to meet market conditions.
The Minister said that other indicators of the industry’s potential included an increasing demand for goat meat by a segment of the growing ethnic population in the United States of America, as well as fat content that was 47 per cent lower than that in beef and 54 per cent less than that in lamb.
Mr. Clarke cited initiatives to increase local goat production by the Ministry of Agriculture, such as efforts to spearhead research on goat nutrition and husbandry, as well as to improve production and productivity at the Ministry’s breeding station in Hounslow, St. Elizabeth; the on-going national sheep and goat project; as well as the goat commercialization project, which involved cross-breeding.
The Minister said that these initiatives had resulted in an improvement in the weight of native goats, significant reduction in the death rate of young goats and a 40 per cent increase in growth rates.
He said that the Ministry’s Research Division, in association with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), and the Goat Breeders Society, had embarked on a project to increase the industry’s value added component, starting with cutting and packaging of meat to allow farmers to sell parts of the goat at higher prices.Mr. Clarke called on the 60,000 goat farmers across the island to take advantage of the opportunities and increase their goat production.

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