NASSAU, The Bahamas –– Food security begins with empowering livestock farmers to raise healthy pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens for a sustainable local industry.
One Bahamian farmer, Dennis Cates, of Pookie Cates Farm and Petting Zoo on Golden Isles and Cowpen Road in the old Dairy Farms area, showcased his livestock at the 2015 Gladstone Road Agriculture Expo this weekend and said his livestock can be used for the supplying the local meat industry.
“I presently have sheep and goats, pigs, and I have 22 different breeds of chickens, and I got peacocks, pheasants, Guinea Hens, African Geese and other variety of stuff. I have Nubians, Lamanchas, South African Boars, and Longhorns. They are four of the breeds of goats. In pigs, I have Yorkshire, the Hampshire, and the Duroc. Then in the sheep I have the South African Dorper, the American Dorper, and I have some local breeds of sheep from Long Island,” said Mr. Cates.
“I sell by the hoof, which is live. I don’t sell anything that is dead. So, anybody who wants to purchase any animals, they would have to buy it live. They could take it to the abattoir to be slaughtered or they could keep it as a pet, whatever their choice is.”
Mr. Cates briefly described his faith in Bahamian agriculture as a new product that would impact the Gross Domestic Product significantly, particularly for farmers who specialize in local organic farming and livestock.
“Usually prices start from $200 and up, that’s for sheep and goats. Once you have the feed, they are easy to feed. It can be costly also. With a flock of about 100 sheep and goats, you’re looking at maybe $200 to $300 a week for just feed alone, that’s commercial feed now. That’s not the type of bush you have around or if you have forage for them to eat,” said Mr. Cates.
“If you have to buy hay, a bale of hay, that $40 plus VAT. Mostly I feed hay to my mothers and babies, you know, the ones that have babies because you have to keep them strong and healthy. Every one of them gets something in their feed, which is organic. All of my animals are organic, naturally fed and grown.”
Mr. Cates wants Bahamians to know that commercial livestock is not raised on just plain grass.
“Oh, no no no! It’s a lot of work and a lot of care you have to be put into this and you have to be dedicated to this and have a love for this,” said Mr. Cates.
“We need more farmers, not just educated farmers. We need farmers that have a love for this, who are determined to make this the food security of The Bahamas. This is the future. Tourism is great, but this is the future.”
Mr. Cates said just how we invest millions in tourism, we need to invest millions of dollars in farming because we need to feed ourselves and we need to do it fast.