Thirty goat farmers from Stony Hill, St Andrew, were the beneficiaries of training in internal and external parasite management, provided jointly by Nutramix and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Caribbean, at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) headquarters in Kingston recently
Internal and external parasite management has been identified as a priority area by farmers who are participants in the Sustainable Agriculture in the Caribbean (SAC) project funded by the Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
Leading the presentation, Nutramix veterinarian and senior manager of livestock support Dr Gabrielle Young shared insights on how farmers can identify the different parasites and pests that can affect their herds, determine the right course of action, and ultimately improve nutrition for their animals and parasite resistance.
Following the training, each participating farmer also received a tech pack of products worth $30,000 to address their herds' internal and external parasite issues. The tech packs included a variety of products such as injectable dewormers, anticoccidial treatments, multivitamins (injectables and water soluble), first aid kits, thermometers, weight tape, hoof trimming tools, topical sprays for wound treatment and parasites, as well as bags of Nutramix feed for proper herd nutrition.
Dr Young shared that farmers participating in the initiative will also benefit from a three-month follow-up from Nutramix veterinarians and livestock specialists.
"We will visit their farms to train them again to see how best we can improve their production. It's not only just providing them with something, it's showing them what to do and showing them how to use the products properly because sometimes they buy these products but they don't use them properly," she explained.
Among the 30 participating farmers were four youth including Oberlin High School student, fifteen-year-old Kaheim McLune. He disclosed that his journey in farming began when he was gifted a goat while attending primary school.
"I know that I am young but I enjoy farming and I try to balance it with my schoolwork. I'm happy that I am able to participate in this training session because I have a long way to go and I want to know how to take care of my animals," the student farmer explained.
Moreover, while McLune currently has four goats, he ultimately aims to improve the infrastructure on his farm in order to increase his herd for reproductive and butchering purposes.
With a focus on improving the economic prosperity of women and youth in more sustainable agricultural markets in the Caribbean, the SAC project empowers local small ruminant farmers like McLune with training on internal and external parasite management to maximise output, among other things.
Minister of state in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Franklin Witter, who was also at the training session and handover ceremony, underscored the importance of safety in the small ruminant industry.
"... As we continue to support you, small ruminant farmers, I charge you to also follow the proper procedures and protocols to prevent and control parasites. We are in the business of providing healthy food for consumption, and our approach to internal and external parasite control is crucial to that endeavour," he emphasised.
According to Witter, 80 per cent of the goat meat consumed in Jamaica is imported. On this note he revealed the ministry aims "to reverse it so that in the next couple of years, we'll be able to import maybe just 20 per cent while we produce 80 per cent".