Ministry: Fiji’s import of sheep meat and lamb fluctuated over past five years

Sheeps at a local farm. Picture: FILE

The import status of sheep meat and lamb has tremendously fluctuated over the past five years with 4629 tons of sheep meat imported in 2021 from Australia and New Zealand

Minister for Agriculture Dr Mahendra Reddy made the comment while handing over pairs of F1 sheep breeds, together with three breeder bucks to three goat farmers at the Koronivia Research Station recently.

Mr Reddy said the ministry remained committed to developing the sheep and goat industry.

He also highlighted the ministry’s efforts to improve the livestock sector, particularly small ruminants, were to specifically decrease the importation of lamb meat.

“This is part of ongoing efforts to improve the genetic make-up on sheep farms in the country,” Dr Reddy said

“In comparison, our current formal production of sheep meat stands at 74 tonnes a year and you can see the difference between what is being imported and the level of production locally, which needs to be addressed and improved substantially; for example from 2019, an average growth rate of 3 per cent was recorded in sheep production but we can still do so much better,” Mr Reddy said.

He also urged farmers to make use of the genetic improvement program to improve the present condition of the Fiji Fantastic stocks.

Meanwhile, upon receiving his improved F1 pair of sheep, Nakavu villager in Namosi William Feresi acknowledged the ministry for its continuous stance in securing the local livestock sector.

“I am a beef farmer but I always tell my family that we need to have other things to back up our beef farming,” Mr Feresi said.

“I always wanted to explore sheep farming so when I received the call from my locality officer asking if I wanted to take up sheep farming too, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and I told him yes, I want to be a sheep farmer too.

“I am so happy today because I have been thinking of having a sheep farm here, this will be the first time in my life to have sheep farming.

“I will need to attend training for this to learn more and I am looking forward to it, I can only grow from here and I want to thank the Ministry of Agriculture for this program.”

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