Career & Education

Yes, Deer!

CASE grad plans to plug gap in local supply of goat, sheep meat

Sunday, September 29, 2019

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CONCERNED about the country's high import bill for sheep and goat meat, Orlando Deer has made a commitment to make a valuable contribution to the small ruminant sector, with the hope of slashing the expense.

“I want to contribute to agriculture by ramping up the ruminant industry,” he told the Jamaica Observer. “This has been my dream for a while. I saw an article published in the media a few years ago which stated that the country was importing US$15 million in sheep and goat meat. Therefore, my contribution to the sector will be geared towards reducing the import bill for both meats in the Jamaican economy.”

Pursuing a career in agriculture was never far from Deer's plans, or from his destiny it appears. His mother, grandmother, and uncle were farmers who produced cash crops such as cabbage, carrot, sweet potato, and pumpkin. And it could be argued that his very name served to foretell his future.

He fell in love with small ruminants at a young age and this led him to pursue agricultural studies at Ebony Park HEART Academy and College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE).

“When I was about eight years old, I got a doe from my grandmother. That doe later produced several kids and the herd size increased. I was unable to see the animals on a daily basis because of work, however, they were well taken care of by my brother,” said Deer.

He later obtained a buck from Ebony Park HEART Academy and additional does. But after his brother also enrolled in the institution, Deer had to find someone else to tend to his herd. Sadly, tragedy struck.

“After I began to attend CASE, I had to get someone to tend to the animals. However, that person did not show much interest and I lost all of the kids that were produced when dogs attacked them. I even lost the bucks that I had bought for breeding. This left me with no other choice but to sell the remaining ones,” Deer told Career & Education.

The crack in his voice was palpable when he continued: “Frankly speaking, it was a difficult task because the plan at the time was to keep my animals so that money could be made to assist with my tuition from time to time. Unfortunately, that didn't work out.”

He hasn't yet recovered from the loss, but he has plans to rebuild and expand the scope of the business much further than he previously did.

Deer resides in the Coffee Grove district of Manchester. The 25-year-old attended Bellefield High School before he moved on to Ebony Park. A few months ago, he graduated from CASE with a bachelor's degree in animal science. He earned an associate's degree in general agriculture prior to that.

He is presently an instructor in the dairy unit at CASE, and was among three young people formally recognised earlier this year for their commitment to the adavancement of the agriculture sector by The Nest, the first hybrid growth centre which is owned by the CB Group. They had each received the Roger Clarke Memorial Scholarship, valued at $250,000 per student and awarded annually to an outstanding student at CASE, as judged by their performance in the first year of college.

The successful student is interviewed and chosen, in conjunction with the Human Resources Department of the CB Group, from a shortlist recommended by the CASE board.

Deer was awarded in 2016.

Of his scholarship award, Deer said he was honoured to bear an award named for “a great man such as Roger Clarke who has done tremendous work in the agriculture sector”.

“And for this reason, I walk with dignity and pride, as I aim to follow in his footsteps in making my contribution to the agriculture sector of the Jamaican economy,” said Deer.

Deer is a Nutramix Youth in Agriculture ambassador.


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