Better Sheep and goat stocks for Belize through good Taiwan relations Print E-mail
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Thursday, 22 March 2018 00:00

In continuing the good relationship between Belize and Taiwan, a long-standing “Sheep and Goat Genetic Improvement Project” was officially launched last Thursday in Central Farm. So too was the National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center, now located at the center of Belize’s agricultural research initiatives.

Present for the launch and unveiling of a plaque was Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer within the Ministry of Agriculture, who said that the project should increase production as well as provide systems of traceability.  He also said that there are now sheep and goat markets in Mexico and Guatemala and efforts will be made to open legal trading routes to those countries.

Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize Charles Liu for his part said that Belize and Taiwan have also cooperated in the technology and health sectors. He expressed that Belize has much land available and that the current project to enhance the genetic stock of sheep and goat will be good for farmers.

Already, the breeding center in Central Farm is being utilized to perform delicate operations such as Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfers, which will be provided by technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture to farmers countryside.

Initially, the ruminants breeding project was signed by the then Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Gaspar Vega in his capacity as Minister for Agriculture and the Ambassador of the Republic of China(Taiwan) H.E. Mr. Benjamin Ho on December 2, 2015. Such an innovative project has sought to improve and develop the genetic blood lines of both the sheep and goat livestock through natural breeding and an artificial insemination programs.

Not surprisingly, then, on January 29th of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture welcomed a group of imported Dorper (29 Dorper) and Barbados Black Belly sheep (16 BBB), at the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. This new living stock of genetic material had come from the United States of America.

Another component of the project is to provide technicians and district livestock extension officers with technical training and hands-on practice to improve their knowledge and skills in sheep production. Thus; the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock Unit, in collaboration with the Republic of China (Taiwan), hosted its first “Seed Trainer Workshop” for the Genetic Improvement of the Sheep and Goat Project from 28th of February to 2nd of March 2018 at the Central Farm Research Station in the Cayo District. The workshop had covered different stages of feed management and provided a hands-on opportunity to learn practical operation, on-farm practices and identification system on hoof trimming, docking and castration, as well as a breeding strategy to create a more profitable outcome and fattening period management to improve growth rate.

While sheep and goats continue to be a rarity in Belize, with only 12,000 heads across Belize, the development of this sector will lead to a greater variety at the table. At this time for example, a delicious sample of bar-b-que sheep meat is only available at the Trin’s shop in San Ignacio on Saturdays.