Jamaica y Trinidad y Tobago desarrollan un programa de apoyo a los productores de ovino y caprino
GOAT AND sheep farmers in Jamaica and their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago are set to benefit from a recently launched four-year project aimed at improving the production, productivity and quality of meat, as well as the availability of breeding stock in both countries.
Funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), the project which is being implemented by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the long-term objective is to enhance the income and food security of small-ruminant farmers and meat processors, in the process reducing the dependency on food imports.
During a recent field trip, which included stops at a Ministry of Agriculture facility in Hounslow, St Elizabeth, Sam Motta Training and Demonstration Centre in Manchester and Bodles Research Centre, St Catherine, stakeholders from Trinidad and Tobago got an opportunity to see the conditions under which the animals would be reared, slaughtered and the meat processed. They also got a chance to view some of the animals and equipment to be utilised in the Diversification of the Caribbean Livestock Sector through the Production of Small Ruminants project. The trip included visits to a number of farms, including one in Clarendon that will provide breeding stock for the programme which will also include more integrated information and database systems.
Most of the activities will be executed at Hounslow where the holding, breeding and multiplication of stock to be distributed, training, demonstration and attachment will take place. Operated by CARDI, the Sam Motta Demonstration and Training Centre provides pure-bred and cross-bred milk and goat-breeding stock for farmers who operate mainly on mined-out bauxite lands. With a recently constructed goat dairy in place, it will also serve as a pilot demonstration site. It also has an integrated crops/livestock production system.
At Bodles, the visitors got a close-up look at the abattoir which is being rehabilitated and equipped to handle processing of sheep and goat. The facility will also act as a training and demonstration unit to be used for training goat and sheep farmers.
This first-hand take on the Jamaica operations allowed the visitors to compare the many issues involved in rearing small ruminants in both countries, with the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Goat and Sheep Society (TTGSS), John Borely, identifying praedial larceny as a major challenge for farmers in the twin-island republic.
"So in order for farmers to really make money off small ruminants they have to buy in at a larger scale. It means investing in housing, fencing, all sorts of costly improvements, and they have to intensify operations to protect animals. In order to do that, you need to have animals that biologically are able to grow at a certain rate to justify your investment," he shared with AgroGleaner.
He explained: "So while the consumer in the Caribbean traditionally prefers goat, for the farmer it is easier to make a profit off sheep because sheep biologically grow faster. You can have a sheep ready to market in six to eight months, (while) a goat will take 8-10 to get to the same weight. So sheep have been the choice of the producer while goat has traditionally been the choice of the consumer."
Describing sheep as a more versatile meat than chevron (goat meat), Borely explained that it has a greater potential for cooking in a variety of ways.
"The only way people eat goat is curried because it is a fat-less meat. It's a very lean meat and in order to have it cooked and taste well you have to marinate it. You have to slow cook, you have to cook it in oil to get that kind of taste coming out. But sheep you can broil, grille, barbecue, you can even curry, but it's a more versatile meat.
"The carcass, also because it fills out more than goat, gives rounder rumps, you can do more fancy cuts, loin cuts, leg cuts for the hotel and tourist trade, people who want those kinds of grilled meats and so."
In order to maximise the potential of the sheep market, the association set up a branch to buy animals from farmers at higher prices than before. The animals are then passed through a proper abattoir and into the hands of a master butcher who "fabricates" the carcass into all sorts of high-value cuts.
"It's a fantastic success," he admitted. We started out with maybe one or two animals per week and now we are up to 20 animals per week. We started slowly but, once a supermarket (Super Quality Supermarket) bought into it, they created a whole section with probably the best meatshop in the region."
Borely is hopeful that in addition to the technical information that will be integral in areas such as dairy production, farmers will also get to share best practices.