Solomon Islands govt beef up cattle industry
HONIARA, Solomon Islands ----- Pasture work at two major cattle farms in Malaita and Western Provinces is underway as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock works on developing the country’s beef industry by bringing more cattle into the country.
Director of Livestock, Barnabas Keqa said the farms in West Kwaio in Malaita and Vangunu in Western Province are part of the government’s national cattle projects.
In West Kwaio, 500 hectares of land has been felled and cleared last year as workers on the ground are currently planting pasture grass and legumes in preparation for cattle later this year.
In Vangunu, pasture grass is already growing with only fencing left to be completed.
The two cattle farms will supplement the Tenavatu Farm on the Guadalcanal plains as breeding centers in the country where farmers can access steers and bulls grown for the beef industry.
Government policy is to develop the three cattle farms into major commercial operations that will become the center for the cattle industry in the country.
“Not only will the farms become breeding centers where farms can get stock, each property will also have a slaughterhouse where farmers can bring their steers to be slaughtered and sold,” Keqa added.
The key goal of the Livestock Department is to implement the NCRA Government policy in relation to increasing the number of cattle in the country through imports and breeding.
Unlike in the past, the Livestock Department is now more strategic.
“We are not going to send cattle out to every village in the country; instead we are going to send them only to areas where there is an access to market,” Keqa explained.
The goal of the Livestock Department is to have the three properties fully stocked and operational by the end of 2013.
In 2011, 400 herds of cattle were imported from Vanuatu and are in quarantine at the Tenavatu farm.
Funding to import more cattle has been allocated in the Ministry’s Development Budget this year and work on when to bring in more cattle is progressing.
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