Got your Goat? Hope so – a Meat sector with great potential
As the implementing agency for the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) Project titled ‘Diversification of the Caribbean Livestock Sector through the production of small ruminants‘, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) hosted a Status Meeting earlier this year with key stakeholders, including Fund Administrators, the Animal Production and Health Division of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Food Production, CARDI executives, Project and National coordinator, and small ruminant farmers.
This sector has the potential for significant contribution to employment generation, foreign exchange earnings/savings through import substitution, poverty alleviation and food and nutrition security. The small ruminants sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural economy in many developed and developing countries, propelled by revenue growth and supported by technological and structural changes, coupled with an enabling environment.
The consumption of sheep meat in the Caribbean region is twice that of goat. Ethnic, cultural and religious factors greatly influence consumption patterns. Jamaica is the largest importer of small ruminant meat in the Region, followed by Trinidad and Tobago.
Along with the Ministries of Agriculture in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, several institutions have active programmes aimed at supporting and developing the industry; including the University of the West Indies; Mc Gill University; the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture; the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations; the Caribbean Development Bank; the Common Fund for Commodities; the International Development Research Centre; and CARDI.
The CFC Project is administered under four (4) key components; namely:
- Breed improvement and dissemination of stock
- Technology transfer and capacity building
- Marketing and processing
- Project coordination
The activities included field visits to Centeno Livestock Station; and the farms of livestock farmers, Christopher Springer and Wayne Bowen, both located in Wallerfield, Trinidad. Mr. Springer operates 4.5 acres of land and his flock presently comprises of 23 breeding ewes and 1 breeding ram, with 6 followers. While Mr. Bowen rears his livestock on 8 acres of land, with a flock of approximately 50 goats and 60 sheep.
The two main beneficiaries of the programme are Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Other funding partners are the Government of Jamaica; the Government of Trinidad and Tobago; and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).