The New Zealand funded Small Ruminant Activity, was an initiative between government of New Zealand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and CARDI. The project was launched in 2016 with its major goal being to contribute to the increased production and productivity of the small ruminant sector in CARICOM Member States. Activities were implemented in Jamaica and nine other Caribbean territories.
A key output of this project was the development of a Module Learning Management Platform. Users of the platform can access 12 instructional chapters on a range of topics relevant to small ruminants production in the tropics including husbandry, feeds and feeding systems, identification and record keeping, Artificial Insemination (AI), Multi Ovulation Embryo Transfer (MOET), preventative health maintenance and housing. These topics are presented in text and video formats and are accessible on YouTube.
Under the Activity a pilot demonstration and training centre was completed at the MICAF Sheep and Goat Centre, Hounslow. The small-scale stock housing facility, was populated to demonstrate the life cycle production under a semi-intensive system of management. Included in the facility were water harvesting and feeding facilities; forage banks of King Grass, Mombasa, Guinea grass and multi-purpose trees such as; Mulberry, Moringa, Tricanthera and Canavala. These were established as cut and carry protein/energy banks.
Upgrading of the facilities at Hounslow and Bodles, allowed Jamaica to become the regional centre for training in small ruminant husbandry, AI and MOET. Ten countries from CARICOM, have participated in training activities at Hounslow and over 80 persons (Veterinarians and Veterinary Assistants, Agricultural Extension Agents, Livestock Officers, Research Assistants, butchers and farmers) have been trained at the facility. The trainees on their return home have facilitated successful training sessions for persons on AI and MOET procedures using the small ruminant husbandry kits provided.
Deploying ICTs to improve information sharing and training was a deliberate strategy under the project. Two mobile apps; SR-Learn and SR-Market were developed and are currently available for download on IPhone (IOS ) and Android platforms.
CARDI SR-Market brings buyers and sellers together in order to facilitate the sharing of information on the availability of live animals, meat, and farm inputs including small equipment, machinery and vetinary medical supplies, which can be traded offline by those participating in this virtual market.
The CARDI SR-Learn is an e-learning Moodle based platform which can be used for training and information sharing. The mobile application offers another level of functionality by delivering the training and information resources to stakeholders on their mobile devices. Since the launch of the apps over 3,000 persons have visited the sites.
This project has been closely monitored by the funding agency through consultant, Dr Chris Asby. He has conducted interviews with key stakeholders across the benefitting countries. His findings reveal that the beneficiaries of the project have been actively engaged in implementing the improved small ruminant production technology learnt over the past 2 years. His Excellency Daniel Mellsop, New Zealand High Commissioner to Jamaica also met with members of the project implementation team, where he expressed thanks to CARDI & MICAF for teaming with MFAT to use the research facility at Hounslow to boost the productivity of small ruminants. He also indicated that it was wonderful to meet the impressive grade 11 agriculture students from Newell High School who were using the facility.