Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the livestock research centre being built at Hounslow in St. Elizabeth will improve the quality and quantity of small livestock in the parish.
In an interview with JIS News during a tour of farm belt areas of St. Elizabeth on Thursday (November 26), Minister Kellier said the centre is a welcome addition to the agricultural sector in the western section on the island.
The $5 million facility, on which work is almost complete, will offer artificial insemination and embryo transfer services to farmers, who are involved in goat and sheep rearing.
Minister Kellier said the services offered at the facility will add new bloodlines to the goat and sheep industry while rebuilding the animal stock.
“It will improve not only the quality of the stock, but the numbers. If we want to multiply the numbers in a faster way, this is the way to go. We expect 10,000 hotel rooms here in the next couple of years, so we have to prepare and set the groundwork to allow us to be sustainable in these matters. We are sowing a seed here, which will germinate into a mighty big tree,” he noted.
Minister Kellier said the establishment of the research centre will also improve animal health, and support the traceability system being implemented by the Ministry.
“This process…will help to ensure that we produce animals that are of proper quality so that when we decide to go the route of traceability, we will be able to know where animals came from and exactly what that chain was like.
“If there is any problem along the chain, we will be able to identify it. So from insemination stage until it reaches the stage to go on the table, we will be able to track it right through,” he indicated.
Minister Kellier added that the centre will also play a key role in the education of students across western Jamaica, especially those at the Newell High School where the Ministry has adopted the agricultural science department as well as assist in the national food security process.
Meanwhile, Chief Livestock Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Facey, who manages the centre, informed that since the start of the year 115 goats and sheep have been distributed to farmers under a livestock distribution project at the facility.
“We have around 122 goats and 157 sheep,” he informed.
Mr. Facey said the research centre will also assist farmers, who may have issues with disease control among their animals as samples can be taken there for testing.
“We are in partnership with the CFC (Common Fund for Commodity) in building out the facilities to include classrooms, lecture halls and dormitories,” he told JIS News.