Genetic breeding sounds like a taboo term for a modified organism, but for the Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project, it’s more to prevent diseases caused by hereditary genes and improve the livestock. A few years ago, a consultant was sent from Taiwan to Belize and uncovered too much genetic inbreeding and low productivity in sheep. That gave birth to the three-year Sheep and Goat Project which has imported the Barbados Back Belly sheep, Dorper sheep and Katahdin Sheep. The capacity building aspect of the project takes place in Santa Elena and Love News attended the Small Ruminant Registry and Digital Platform Seminar for farmers and found out the benefits to farmers.
Jose Sanchez: “The Belize Small Ruminant Registry Registry and Digital platform seminar is a two day workshop sponsored by the Government of Taiwan and took place in Santa Elena.
Andrew Harrison Chief Agriculture Officer:“Launching of a digital platform for the sheep genetics improvement project at Central Farm under the Ministry of Agriculture. This digital platform will have the farmer’s registration of their animals in their flock and also will provide an online marketing system in the future. Once the farmer registers their animal they will be given an ID tag number and that is how this animal will be traced down the value chain either if it’s sold or if it is slaughtered we can trace back where this animal came from.”
Jose Sanchez: “It’s important to find out in layman’s terms the ‘family tree’ of sheep and goat because HSU, Cheng Chih the acting project manager of the project says there has been too much in breeding in Belize.
HSU, Cheng Chih: “They spend lots of time to raise the sheep to reach the ideal weight because the inbreeding will cause the performance resection. Too much inbreeding will cause them to obtain recessive gene and the the average daily gain is low. Its a lot of feed but they can get lots of returns so that’s a major one and the Feeding Measure one in the specific stage something like late pregnancy in the lactation period and they will need more supplement or they can easily lose their baby. It takes five months to get pregnant but they lose the baby so they’re wasting time.
Tsai, Ming Cheng Representative R.O.C Chief of Taiwan Technical Miss: The Taiwanese Government has many collaborative project with Belize Government and Agriculture project especially the sheep project as one of the main Agriculture projects in Belize.
Jose Sanchez: “There are practical benefits of the project and the farmers agree.
Sabal: “Sabal’s Cassava Farm and extension Sabal’s Livestock. We have learned that from the Cassava products we can actually feed sheep so then we are looking at the Cassava and Sheep program as an alternative to investment on the farm so we’ve learned new genetics. We’ve got sheeps and other animals but this opportunity comes around for new breeds and everything else then why not jump into it and make it much more fertile.”
Sheep Farmer: “I work in the Cayo District and I basically work for for different resorts raising sheep and goats.”
Jose Sanchez: “Okay and so how has this Genetic Sheep Goat Improvement Project helped you?”
Sheep Farmer: “Well to be honest it is helping a lot because we are getting better breeds because in Belize it’s difficult to get quality goats and quality sheep so now with this we are getting better stock and you can see it in the production, both in meat and in milk.”
Jose Sanchez for Love News.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $1.62 Million US Dollars and the funds are being used to expand the infrastructure at the national sheep and goat breeding center in Central Farm, introducing quality breeding stocks and building the capacity of technicians and farmers to improve the general production of sheep.