Advertisement
JIS News

Local goat farmers will be in a better position to further develop their herds and increase profitability as a result of the Jamaica Goat Breeders Society having moved to Association status.
The name change, which was ratified at a recent annual general meeting of the Society, puts the body in a much better position to access overseas and local developmental funding.
President of the Association, Derrick Vermont tells JIS news that as a Society the organization faces many obstacles.
“We have been operating as a breed society and because of this we cannot obtain grant funding for development from certain overseas international donor organizations because we are seen as part of the Ministry of Agriculture (and Lands),” he explains. The name change is therefore expected to improve this situation. “So we are changing the focus because we want to become a producer organization.we are setting up ourselves in a way that we can attract grant funding and also be more up front with what we are doing,” he adds.
The Goat Breeders Association has a registered membership base of more than 250. Mr. Vermont says despite some level of vibrancy in the sector the present membership continues to face some challenges as it strives to develop the sector.
He points out that as part of the strategy identified for the sustained development of goat breeding in Jamaica there is an urgent need to import new animals to improve the island’s breeding stock.
However, with the threat from the disease “Scrapie” in the major supplier market of the United States the Ministry’s Veterinary Division has placed restrictions on the importation of breeder and other stock to the island.
“Because of this we have hit a big setback in Jamaica because we are unable to import goats into the country.the Veterinary Division has decided that no animals can come in until after a certain time,” he says.
Mr. Vermont notes that all other major diseases affecting small ruminants, including sheep, are absent from the island. He adds that one measure that could be used to avoid the importation of goat stock is the use of semen for artificial insemination.
“I do not know if they (the Veterinary Division) would allow semen to come in too but we could import because we have the expertise in Jamaica to do artificial insemination and we have trained people under the sheep and goat project. But insemination in goats is much harder than in cattle and pigs and is harder in sheep and these are the two animal now that they are really pushing in that small ruminant cluster,” he explains.
One inspiring development in the sector is that goat breeders are preparing to re-enter the leather craft market, which was at one point a vital source of income for many. “We definitely want to go back into the goatskin leather craft. We were in it before and we have the trained people here so we want to go back on a larger scale,” he says.
Entrepreneurs are also taking advantage of the local appetite for goat meat and are developing value added products. Businessman Brasco Lee after a five-year development period has now put out on the market a soup mix made from the meat of the ‘ram goat’, a distinct favourite of Jamaicans.
“It’s a dried product, packaged just like other soup mixes on the market but it’s the real ‘ram goat’ meat with other ingredients. The first time it was introduced in the United States one supplier wanted a trailer load. Unfortunately there isn’t enough raw materials to fill the demand,” he said.
Mr. Vernon believes however that this diversification will create a myriad of opportunities for small herders.
Meanwhile, he discloses that the Association will be making preparations for the staging of a Goat Festival, which will feature a “surprising” variety of dishes.
“A lot of people just believe that there is only curry goat. We had a goat expo in St. Elizabeth some time ago where people from RADA had booths and we had on display over 13 dishes of goat meat. We are planning to have another goat expo where we can bring in the other dishes so that they can see what we are doing,” he informs.