More than 40 acres of legume forages are being established on Andros in order to grow protein-rich food for the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Sciences Institute’s (BAMSI) small ruminants breeding program and Bahamian farmers, according to the institute.
A press release issued by BAMSI yesterday revealed it has introduced technological advancements which have benefitted the Caribbean region and its breeding program, which was started in 2015. Part of the initiative will include developing controlled pastures on Andros for BAMSI’s animals and growing high protein forages for the animals to feed on. “These improved high protein forages are to be evaluated for growth performance, nutritive content and adaptability,” BAMSI’s release said. “Sheep and goats are ruminants, which means that they grow best when fed on grasses and forages, so a feeding regime will be developed based on these forages established at BAMSI.
“These grasses and forages will be made available to other Family Islands, so that all livestock farmers will have the opportunity to supply high-quality feeds throughout the year.”
President of BAMSI Godfrey Eneas said The Bahamas’ small ruminant industry has been on the decline for 40 years.
This national initiative will see the development of herds of sheep and goats for livestock farmers. “This is a major intervention in the small ruminant industry, as it represents the largest holding of diverse breeds in The Bahamas, with the main objectives of teaching, extension and research,” the BAMSI release said.
“BAMSI’s objective is to demonstrate to farmers improved housing structures, feeding technologies, disease management and hygienic animal slaughter techniques to develop the industry. “BAMSI’s sheep and goat unit currently houses over 600 animals at different physiological stages.” BAMSI said it imported three groups of pedigree goats last year in order to improve existing herds in The Bahamas. “These are all meat breeds which can adapt easily to the geography and climate of The Bahamas,” BAMSI’s release said.
“In addition, the breeding herd consists of several breeds of sheep, including the Local Bahama, Persian Black Head, Dorper and Barbados Black Belly.” Eneas told The Nassau Guardian following a ban of Brazilian meat products that BAMSI is working toward The Bahamas becoming a self-sustaining food producer in the future. He said certain choices by governments in the past have destroyed different agricultural initiatives. He said BAMSI has brought back the hope that one day The Bahamas will significantly reduce its $1 billion food import bill.