Goat Breeding is a Viable Business
By John Honora

The present status of livestock production and marketing in St. Lucia is rather haphazard with substantive variation in animal availability, body weight and condition at slaughter variable carcass characteristics and a lack of standardized processing techniques are also major problems.

Let us use the goat for our example. There is enormous potential in the Chevron (goat meat) industry for our local farmers. It is possible to increase local market share if supply, consistency and quality can be archived. Efforts should be made by farmers to upgrade their stock by cross breeding with other breeds developed for better carcass quality. A perfect example is the Boer goat (farmer goat) noted for its rapid growth rate and high meat to bone ratio. This cross breeding may produce a carcass that will consistently meet consumer expectation on the domestic market.

The farmer's ability to produce the right product at the right place will determine the viability of his or her goat enterprise. Two potential niche markets are (1) health conscious meat consumers. Goat meat is very lean with little fat cover and (2) Restaurant/hotels can feature chevron as gourmet food speciality.

The events of the past year should spur us to be more self-sufficient and our agricultural industry is very vital in achieving this. However it will take more than the Ministry of Agriculture to perform this task. The consumers, farmers and the financial institutions need to understand that we are all stakeholders.

I believe that the time has come for small ruminant farmers, namely sheep and goat farmers to come together and chart a course for this vital part of our agricultural industry.

Towards this end I propose that a meeting be scheduled to form an association at the earliest. Interested persons can contact me at telephone 450-6328.

September 21, 2002