Jamaica, on Monday, received the first batch of animals under the Government’s Small Ruminant Development Programme.
A total of 50 goats, including the Boer, Nubian and Kiko breeds, arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and were received by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr.
Charles Jr, who was accompanied by a high-level ministry team, told journalists that the goats’ genetic superiority is intended to “change the prospect of small ruminants for our country”.
He said the 50 goats are the first batch of some 200 being brought in, with a total of 6,000 animals to be imported over the next three years.
“So, this is an enormous positive for agriculture and several benefits to our farmers, particularly the farmers who, for long, have been yearning for us to have the higher quality, the genetics that will allow for the goats to breed faster, to have greater yield in meat [and] greater yield in milk,” Charles Jr added.
He further pointed out that “a number of problems” will be solved through the importation of the goats, noting that the animals will eat local materials and reduce the “difficulty of having to import feed into Jamaica”.
The goats will be housed at the Ministry’s Bodles Research Station in St Catherine where a semen bank (collection of semen from imported animals with superior genetics) will also be established from the males.
The minister said the goats’ off-springs will be sold to farmers to increase their stock and ensure that the animals are mixed with those in the country to provide the best quality possible.
“Our ultimate goal is to have resilience in our sector. The ultimate goal is to reduce the incidence of praedial larceny, and so all of these goats come already tagged and traceable. This is the kind of efficient mechanism that we want to introduce across the sector,” he stated.
Charles Jr also revealed that the chief technical director in the ministry, Orville Palmer, led a team that travelled to Texas in the United States to investigate and examine the animals.
Palmer, in his remarks, said small ruminants are among the safest and quickest options to substantively provide animal protein for the domestic market.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Pearnel Charles Jr (stooping) and Minister of State, Franklin Witter (right, foreground), examine several of the first 50 goats to be imported under the Government’s Small Ruminant Development Programme. With them are Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Dairy Development Board, Devon Sayers (left, standing) and Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Orville Palmer. (Photo: JIS)
“A large part of producing protein for human consumption is the feed conversion cost. So [in] utilising these hybrid animals… we will be able to have an animal which utilises our local raw material to convert that into protein in a very efficient way. So that will ultimately serve to broaden and enhance our food security aspect of our nation,” he stated.
The national small ruminant development programme, which was launched in 2021, is geared towards rapidly increasing the population of primarily goat and sheep.
This is to increase local production, productivity and quality of small-ruminant meat and milk.