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JIS News

The Research and Development Division of the Ministry of Agriculture is awaiting the importation of 85 sheep and 95 goats for its Small Ruminant Development Project.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Livestock Researcher for the Small Ruminant Development Project, David Miller, informed “the two breeds of sheep, the Dorper and the Katahdin should be here by February 10, and the two breeds of goats, the Boer and Nubian should arrive later in the year.”
The animals will be used to effect a 15 per cent increase in the sheep and goat industry over a three-year period.
“The imported animals will produce offspring, who in turn will produce their own offspring and they, [third generation] will be passed on to qualified farmers. It is not a handout. The offspring of those [fourth generation] animals will then go to the meat market,” Mr. Miller explained.
Now in the third quarter of its first year, the Project aims to supply sheep meat also called lamb, mutton or chevron and goat meat or mutton to the commercial/domestic market because, “sheep/lamb and goat meat are imported, we [Jamaica] only produce about 51 per cent of our goat consumption. We only produce about one to two per cent of the sheep/lamb we eat”, continued Mr. Miller.
When the animals arrive, the goats will be housed at the Bodles Research Station and the sheep will be stationed at Hounslow in St. Elizabeth, which is the sheep research centre.
Upon completion of a survey currently being carried out by the Ministry to update the population figures for sheep and goat, which now stand at 5,000 and 400,000 respectively, the Ministry will also look at the parishes with the greatest population and determine which parishes are most suitable for their production.
In the meantime, the Research and Development Division will continue with the doe [female goat] Revolving Programme, which involves a farmer who is registered with the Goat Breeders Society, “receiving four pregnant female goats and he gives back one female kid, to the programme,” explained Mr. Miller.
An adjunct to this project is another programme. “Local Members of Parliament buy female goats from local farmers and place them with qualified farmers in their constituencies. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) monitors the programme because RADA identifies the qualified farmers,” Mr. Miller told JIS News.
Regarding the returns to farmers, which Mr. Miller sees as an obvious incentive to get on board with the Small Ruminant Development Project, the Chief Livestock Researcher said, “the hotels need to be supplied with both kinds of meat and the sheep industry is small so sheep farmers will get a very good price for their product”.
For farmers who are worried about theft, Mr. Miller assured that a system for identifying ownership of goats would soon be implemented and may see island wide implementation as early as 2007.
The Research and Development Division is in charge of the research being done for the animals and RADA is responsible for running the programme, identifying qualified farmers and registering them.
Of the $2,550,000 that the Ministry has allotted for the Small Ruminant Development Project, a portion of the money is allowed for, “back up system, such as forage/fodder development, which is the development of low cost feeds for the animals,” Mr. Miller informed, as the animals have to be nutritiously and economically fed for sustainable production.
The Ministry of Agriculture is interested in goat care and management and has mandated the Research and Development Division to create “the competitive advantage” for Jamaican farmers. The Division was instrumental in identifying the Nubian and Boer goat breeds as suitable for Jamaica.