By Henrylito D. Tacio
“Not only does the goat offer economic benefits to the farmer, it could also open the doors to additional sources of organic fertilizer and natural biological deterrents for pests and unwanted insects,” former North Cotabato governor Emmanuel Piñol told us during our recent visit at his 16-hectare Braveheart Farm in barangay Paco in Kidapawan City.
Piñol, who now serves a vice governor after the post as provincial governor for three consecutive terms, that in the early stages of his game fowl breeding project in the farm, weevils feasted on his stored feeds which affected greatly the quality of the feeds they gave to the chicken. He said that when he started raising goats, the weevils just disappeared.
“Another problem that seemed to have been neutralized by our goats was the presence of termites in our farm,” he said. The termites would attack his fruit trees, particularly mangos and lanzones, killing many of them. “When we started using goat manure as fertilizer which was placed around the trees, the termite attack stopped.”
Today, the former-journalist-turned-government official Piñol is now looking at the prospect of using the goat’s fermented urine in his organic farming program.
Vice Gov. Piñol started working with Philippine media at the age of 18 until he decided to leave Manila and went home to pursue his greatest passion – farming. In 1993, the 39-year-old father of two daughters (Maria Krista and Josa Bernadette; a son, Bernhart Immanuel, would join later in 2002) and husband of Emily planted tropical fruits in his newly acquired farm just in the outskirts of the city.
Later on, he started raising game fowls using breeding stocks he acquired from his United States visit. He started breeding such lines as Robby White Kelso, MacLean Hatch, Bates Grey, Travis Clark Spangled Kelso, Col. Givens Spangled Hatch, Dink Fair Sweater and Sweater-Roundhead.
Encouraged by the rise in prices of natural rubber in the world market, Vice Gov. Piñol embarked on a rubber nursery program. He propagated rubber clones that promise higher yield and resistance to diseases. He also tried to raise native goats but discarded the project because they did not yield as much meat as he expected.
In 2003, his thinking about goats changed when he came to know about Boer goats. Boers originate from South Africa and are considered to be the best meat goats in the world today. They are extensively bred in the US, Australia, and New Zealand where periodic shows are held to identify the best goats in different categories.
“The Boer Goat was first introduced to me by a US-based acquaintance who handled the shipment of the American game fowls that I acquired for breeding in the Philippines,” Piñol said. “The first shipment that I received included a big white buck and four does. Unfortunately, the buck suffered a bloat after arrival and I lost him after about two weeks.”
But the incident did not deter him from pursuing his plan. He decided to acquire 10 more heads, including two bucks (red and white), four white does and another four red does. “When the does started giving birth, I got inspired and acquired more stocks from the United States.”
Like most farmers, Vice Gov. Piñol did some studies of his own to protect his animals from diseases. “Owing to the unpredictable weather in the area, I have decided to raise my goats in elevated pens that make health management easier,” he disclosed. Another advantage: The system “enabled us to make use of their wastes for fertilizing the fruit trees we have in the farm.”
Today, the Braveheart Farm has already about 200 heads with many more kids coming every month as at least 40 does are currently pregnant. He sells only bucks as he intends to reach a 300-doe level for his farm to be producing at least 400 kids every year by 2008.
“Already, I have sold about 60 young red and white bucks whose quality is comparable to those bred in the US. Most of the young bucks are sold through reservations or first-come-first-served basis,” Vice-Gov. Piñol said.
In the National Goat and Sheep Congress of the Philippines goat show in Cagayan de Oro in March this year, Piñol’s goats won all of the four categories: Best Buck, Best Doe, Best Junior Buck, and Best Junior Doe.
The winner of the Best Buck plum, which he called Rocky, is now being extensively bred in his farm and is valued at P300,000. Rocky’s younger brother, Rawhide Riggin who, at 14 months old weighs 100 kilos, was displayed during the Kadayawan Festival in Davao City recently.
Vice-Gov. Piñol wants his success in raising goats to be replicated by his constituents. Which is why he asked the provincial government to allocate P6 million for the Small Ruminants Program. Through this, he hopes his province would become the number one producer of meat goats in the country within the next 10 years.
“This program will not only intensify goat production in the backyard level and improve the quality of goats in the province. It will most definitely assure our goat raisers and small farm families better income,” he said.
Under the program, pure breed Boer bucks will be distributed to goat farms with a minimum goat population of 20 heads to upgrade their goat stock. Serving as multiplier farms, they will supply the upgraded doe stocks that will be purchased by the provincial government for distribution to beneficiaries of its high value crops program.
“We need the goats as alternative source of income for our high-value crop farmers while waiting for their farm produce,” Vice Gov. Piñol said. Rubber will only become productive after 5-6 years, coconut in 5 years, and oil palm after 3 years.
Just recently, the program got a boost when Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap promised financial support for the program. In a recent meeting in Davao City, incumbent Governor Jesus N. Sacdalan proposed a 50/50 counterpart scheme between the provincial government and the Department of Agriculture for the program, which aims to revitalize the local livestock industry to further enhance agricultural productivity in the province and contribute positively to the national government’s productivity targets.
What is the main reason why the provincial government is pushing for the implementation of the program? Nothing except that Saudi Arabia is interested in buying goats from Mindanao for its meat requirements during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
According to the Department of Agrarian Reform, Saudi Arabia wants to import goats from Mindanao to ensure a reliable and safe supply of two million goats daily during the annual season of Hajj in December. It is obligatory for a Muslim to attend the six-day festival at least once in a lifetime. Each pilgrim must offer goats as sacrifice.
“Right now, the supply of goats during the pilgrimage comes from different countries,” said Bernie Cruz, Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for Special Concerns. “Can you imagine how much money would our farmer earn a month once the deal is closed? Each farmer is likely to earn a monthly income of P40,000. Our local farmers’ rate exportation to Saudi would triple from US$50 million per year to US$150 million per year.”
Locally, a 4-5 month old bucking is sold for P30,000 each. Per kilo of an average 50-kilo Boer goat sells at P100 in the market.
At present, the country has a goat population of 3,311,724 broken down as follow: CAR: Cordillera Autonomous Region (54,127); Region I (456,791); II (140,671); III (234,081); IV (254,849); V (93,189); VI (353,879); VII (486,028); VIII (72,335); IX (123,789); X (186,752); XI (321,632); XII (239,518); CARAGA (106,271); and ARMM: Autonomous Regions of Muslim Mindanao (187,816).
“Goat raising is one of the most simple, low-cost food production projects that a Filipino can get involved in,” says Roy C. Alimoane, director of the Davao-based Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Inc. “Because of the rising cost of commercial feeds these days, goats have become one of the most economical alternatives for meeting the protein needs of Filipino families.”
Goats thrive on grasses and field greens and are easy to care for. A person who raises goats will have a new good source of food and additional income. More importantly, goats are usually docile and can be raised by anyone.
Goats were one of the earliest animals to be domesticated and are underrated as farm livestock. There are many references to the goat in the earliest literature and it has a very considerable place in mythology. Pan, the Greek god, was half-goat, and the word ‘capricious,’ which means “whimsical” or “irrational,” is derived from caper, the Latin word for goat.
With a taste “between lamb and beef,” goat meat (chevon) appeals to many people. Goat meat is ideal for health conscious as it is low in cholesterol and high in iron. Kilo for kilo, goat meat is having less fat than chicken and about the same calories.
In the Philippines, goat meat is greatly in demand because it is prepared into special delicacies like kaldereta and kilawen, which are favorite menus of many Filipinos. It can also be a good ingredient for fresh or smoked sausages.
In the United States, the demand for chevon is so high that producers also can’t keep up. Because of the vacuum, much of the goat meat sold in the country is imported from New Zealand or Australia. “About 1.5 million pounds of goat meat is imported every week,” reports Gail Bown, author of ‘Raising Meat Goats for Profit.’ “And demand just keeps growing.” — ###