Rising preferences by both Fijians and tourists for sheep and goat meat have spurred market opportunities for Fijian farmers to invest in, as the import value for sheep meat now sit at over $40million and at $970,000 for goat meat.
While opening a project-planning workshop on improving small ruminant production and supply for Fiji and Samoa, Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Mahendra Reddy also attributed this preference to the growing population and urbanisation acquiring more animal protein source.
“Sheep and goat farming is one of the major livestock commodities in Fiji in terms of its economical and social importance,” he said at the Nadi workshop, organized by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
“The sheep and goat farming in Fiji is not only targeted for food security however, it actually acts as an income security especially for insurance to many farmers in Fiji for their daily cash flows. For the majority of the small ruminant farmers, the goat and sheep farming start as a hobby but eventually it ends up with fulfilling the local market demands especially during festive seasons.”
In 2018, Fiji’s goat industry produced 9.2 tons of goat meat from formal markets and about 184.8 tons from informal markets, while the sheep industry produced two tons of meat from formal markets and about 100 tons from informal markets.
“The small ruminant industry is currently stabilizing in both Pacific Island countries [Samoa and Fiji] however, it needs more attention for growth and development through research and development activities in terms of improvement in genetics, nutrition components, pest and diseases and response to changing environmental conditions,” the Minister highlighted.
A total of 1,541 goat farms are now registered in Fiji with a total stock of 63,041 while for sheep, there are 685 registered farms with a total stock of 27,697.