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Feb 4, 2021

More Affordable Sheep and Goat Stocks Coming for Farmers!

Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Abelardo Mai has been on a countrywide tour in the past weeks.  He has been visiting farmers and other producers in the agro-productive sector.  That tour took him to Central Farm today to learn more about the sheep and goat breeding project. It’s a joint venture between Taiwan and Belize through which quality breeding stocks of sheep and goat are made available for farmers.  But since the project started back in 2015, only about twenty percent of the goat and sheep farmers in Belize have taken advantage of the stocks. But that is about to change, following Mai’s tour of the facility. Here’s the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Today, Minister of Agriculture Abelardo Mai and Ambassador of Taiwan to Belize Remus Li-Kuo Chen toured the National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center at Central Farm. It’s a joint project between the Taiwanese Government and Government of Belize. The project was launched four years ago with funding by Taiwan. The project was first introduced because sheep and goat productivity were on the decline in Belize and so they imported three high quality breeds of sheep and goat to improve the stocks in the country.


Melanio Pech

Melanio Pech, Local Consultant

“It is a project that started with the objective to produce breeding stocks so that farmers could produce the quality of sheep and goats that they produce. Based on the information gathered by the Ministry of Agriculture, the level of production of sheep was going down especially the productivity due to inbreeding. Therefore it was advised that a project of this magnitude could be brought into the country to improve the genetics by importation of breeding stocks.  Of the three breeds that we have there, all of them are for meat purposes so we are promoting the production of sheep meat in Belize.  While we are breeding them of groups by different genetics, the farmers are getting of each of the three breeds they are getting purebreds because we know that farmers need purebred to upgrade his quality of productivity.”


But while the project was created for farmers to be able to buy these purebred sheep and goat to improve their own stocks, of the two hundred and fifty to three hundred sheep and goat farmers across the country, only about fifty are using imported the breeds to improve their stocks. It’s Minister of Agriculture Abelardo Mai’s first time to the center and he says the reason why is because most farmers can’t afford to buy the stocks, so he is going to change that.


Abelardo Mai

Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“I am very impressed. I think it is the way to go and has tremendous potential. I understand that the market for sheep has shrunk because of COVID. But from what I understand it to be is to improve the genetics in the country and what I have seen from the three breeds we are doing very well in meeting the objectives. We have to adjust the prices for the farmers because from what I have been told, it is a little expensive for farmers and so we are going to address that immediately.  The farmers need to get these improved genetics and they have to be able to afford it and so there is no use for us to have improved genetics and farmers can’t afford it, so we have to make it affordable for the farmers. We have seen, the cost has been completed and I think we are selling at five hundred dollars and that is what I am being advised to do so we will finalized that by this evening and it will be out by Monday. Farmers who want these animals for five hundred dollars should be able to get them for five hundred dollars not a thousand dollars.”


Since last year, the project has introduced cross-breeding to make it a bit more affordable for local farmers. The project is in its second phase which will explore marketing and promotion of sheep and goat for local consumption.


Remus Li-Kuo Chen

Remus Li-Kuo Chen, Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize

“Now, they are entering into the second phase of this project after four years in terms of the guidance and enhancement, we try to have more promotional activities, for example like culinary activities to taste the outstanding products of the lamb chops or mutton that originate from this center. There will also be more marketing, education, public campaign for the domestic market and this country will have more appreciation, understanding and choices in selection of the lamb chop products.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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