Gov’t plans to expand goat population
Trevor Bernard, president of the Goat and Sheep Association of Jamaica, has hailed the announcement of plans for a special artificial insemination and embryo transfer project for small ruminants across the island.
The programme, aimed at boosting goat production, will see 6,000 registered goat farmers being provided with semen from any goat breed and embryo free of cost.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, said Jamaica is importing between 80-85 per cent of the goat meat it consumes. He said that the special artificial insemination and embryo transfer project is aimed at rapidly multiplying the small ruminant population to meet local demand.
"The minister has made a move in the right direction as the demand of the goat meat is particularly high since COVID," Bernard said.
"For the past year or so, even buying goats has become difficult due to COVID, a lot of people are taking on farming, a lot of people got involved in goat rearing and it has caused shortage and high demand. Price has also gone up because of the shortage," he told THE STAR.
Jamaica imported between 1.002 million kilogrammes of goat meat, valuing US$ 3.7 million, between 2015 and 2019.
Opposition Senator Damion Crawford, who is a goat farmer, said that the project could see struggling locals make a life for themselves.
"It is a necessary thing and I congratulate the minister and the Government because this effort will help to expand the gene pool and therefore increase the yield per animal, " Crawford said.
"The benefit of goats to the poor is that they don't need to purchase feed like pigs or chicken because they depend on crude protein from grass, in the main," he added.