With Jamaica now spending JA$1 billion on mutton importation annually, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining, Floyd Green, is calling on Jamaicans to consider goat rearing as a lucrative opportunity.
Mr. Green, who was speaking to residents, farmers and other agricultural stakeholders at a ‘The New Face of Food: Stakeholder Engagement’, in Westmoreland, on January 19, said it is against this backdrop that the Ministry is pushing and emphasising the need for increased local production to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign suppliers.
“I cannot begin to emphasise the significant economic opportunity that exists within the goat farming industry, and its potential to contribute to a reduction in the country’s importation bill. The billion-dollar mutton importation bill is simply too high. It is imperative that we explore and exploit the potential within our own borders to meet our demands for mutton,” the Minister added.
Mr. Green further noted that with the country’s rich agricultural landscape and favourable climate, there is ample opportunity for individuals to capitalise on the demand for goat meat within local and international markets.
He also highlighted the potential for job creation and income generation through goat farming and encouraged Jamaicans to consider the numerous opportunities available within the industry.
The Minister pointed out that in addition to goat meat production, there is the potential for goat milk production and the value-added products that can be derived from goats, such as cheese and skincare products.
“Goat farming presents a holistic opportunity for economic growth and diversification within the agricultural sector,” said Mr. Green.
“I must also share that I had a goat milk rum cream in St. Mary the other day and that was no ordinary rum cream. It was something special, which goes to show that there’s so much value-added products that can be derived from rearing goats,” he added.
The Minister further emphasised the need for sustainable and responsible farming practices, noting that the Government is committed to providing support and resources to farmers who are willing to invest in the industry.
Mr. Green also pointed to initiatives aimed at providing technical training, access to financing, and modern agricultural technologies to support the growth of the goat farming sector.
In response to the Minister’s call to action, several local agricultural associations and industry experts have expressed their support for the promotion of goat farming.
“Goat farming has the potential to not only address the issue of mutton importation but also to create sustainable livelihoods for Jamaicans across the island,” remarked Westmoreland goat farmer, Stanley Richards.
Other farmers expressed concern regarding the perennial problem of praedial larceny, calling it one of the greatest ills facing the livestock sector, to which Minister Green agreed.
“This is of great concern and which we are addressing as we speak,” the Minister replied. “Right across all facets of government we are taking praedial larceny more serious. It is now a crime where you can be charged as a gang because we recognise that our praedial larcenists are more organised and using those gains to buy things like guns,” he added.
Source: Jamaica GIS.