Gbarnga, Bong County — U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac has officially handed over a new goat quarantine facility to Liberia’s Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) outside Gbarnga, in Bong County.
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Food and Enterprise Development Program (FED), rehabilitated the former livestock facility so that it can house up to 500 goats at a time. The facility is scheduled to receive the first shipment of goats through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress goat program sometime during May 2014.
Goats are a core asset for rural village households and farms in Liberia. However, nearly 80 percent of all goat meat consumed in Liberia is imported from neighboring countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali.
To reverse that trend, Ambassador Malac told an audience of CARI, FED and local officials (April 4) that USAID and USDA are collaborating with CARI to improve the genetic pool of goats in Liberia through importation of improved breeds of healthy goats. The programs are also working collectively with farmers to vaccinate their animals and train them on how to keep their stocks healthy and reduce the deaths of young goats.
The goat quarantine facility is critical to increasing Liberia’s national goat herd and represents how USAID/FED, USDA, and Liberia’s Ministry of Agriculture will work together to secure the future of goat farmers in Liberia.
FED is now in its third year of implementation in Liberia, and there has been a strong collaboration between the Governments of Liberia and the United States since its beginning, as well as with other key stakeholders, in developing agriculture and agribusinesses in Liberia. The U.S. Government has made, and will continue to make, major investments to support agriculture and agribusiness in Liberia through its close partnership with government institutions and agencies like the Ministry of Agriculture and CARI.
Through projects such as the goat quarantine facility and the establishment of a thriving goat sector in Liberia, the U.S. Government reaffirms its long-standing commitment to help Liberia reduce poverty and achieve food security in the future.
Ambassador Malac also visited a private goat farm outside Ganta, Nimba County, which has become a model for goat farmers in the region.
The Zoelay Memorial Farm (ZMF) is owned by Robert Kamei, and functions as a private business farm for food production and as a processing center. The farm is on 50 acres, a few kilometers outside of Ganta. ZMF is a small livestock business that specializes in rearing cows, sheep, and goats and has been registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Liberia Business Registry as a Sole Proprietorship since 2011.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding with USAID FED, Mr. Kamei mobilized a group of neighboring farmers to participate in intensifying their goat production. FED built a main shelter, as well as a maternity shelter, for the farm’s goat herd. When the two parties started the partnership, Kamei had 20 goats. Today, he has 28 goats and has sold 19 goats over the last year.
ZMF is an ideal training site for surrounding farms and to demonstrate FED’s goat production technologies, such as slatted floor goat shelter housing; salt mineral lick production and use; and improved feeder demonstration and fabrication.
The USAID FED and Farmer-to-Farmer programs have partnered to provide hands-on training in animal health care and mother-kid management, utilizing the ZMF site for practical demonstrations.
In addition, the ZMF farm was used for training veterinarian assistants, through facilitators from Makerere University in Uganda, to help reduce kid mortality, which has been a serious problem in Liberia.