Gold from goats
It is true that gold is found under the earth. But above the surface, the equivalent of gold in cash can be found in many agricultural opportunities that have gone largely untapped. This is because neither the government nor the private sector has given agriculture its due importance. It is time to change all this.
Recently, we heard Dr. Jonathan Nayga, director of Cagayan Valley Small Ruminants Research Center (CVSRRC), talk on the untapped potential of goat herding during an early morning radio program. We contacted Nayga to get more details on this sector’s profit potential.
Nayga said there was a significant difference in weight and price between a traditional goat and a goat of the correct breed with good genes. At 8 months, when a goat is customarily sold, a traditional goat may weigh 16 kilos and fetch a price of P1,600. A goat with good genes on the other hand tends to weigh 30 kilos and sell for P3,600. That is P2,000 more for each goat sold.
If the farmer wants to have a goat with good genes, he has to look for a guaranteed goat breeder. Unfortunately, breeders are hard to find. However, the same benefit of good genes can be achieved through artificial insemination.
There are approximately 3 million goats in the country, but only 5 percent have good genes. Therefore, the increased potential revenue of goats with good genes may reach P5.7 billion.
When he was only 7 years old, Nayga was already growing goats in Bohol. He was disappointed with how slowly the goats grew. Not only that, almost 40 percent of the goats sold in his area tended to lose money.
He had heard of the Isabela State University’s agricultural program, which included studies on goats. This was because Isabela had one of the largest concentrations of goats in the country. Nayga subsequently took his undergraduate and doctoral degrees there.
Following up his doctoral dissertation on goats, he submitted a P1.8 million funding proposal for the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research Development under executive director Patricio Faylon in 2007. It was approved in 2009 and completed this year.
The results of this research and the subsequent program of driving up profits are now offered at Isabela State University at a cost of only P2,000 for a three-day seminar (for more information, Nayga’s e-mail and contact numbers are [email protected] and 09213181621).
It has already been mentioned that, from a P200 investment in artificial insemination, the added revenue for an 8-month goat is P2,000. But how do we promote artificial insemination?
Nayga said that for an initial investment cost of P30,000 (of which P12,000 will go to the construction of a tank that can last for three years, one could begin to offer artificial insemination services. At a minimum of 10 female goats to be inseminated each day, gross revenue may reach P3,000 a day. Assuming a six-day workweek, the monthly variable cost of P18,000 will be subtracted from the gross revenue of P75,000. This may yield a net monthly income of P57,000.
Even more money can be made if we take into account the other research results derived from two other aspects of Nayga’s study. One area with a high return on investment is the raising of goats. This includes new technologies in areas such as nutritious feeding with biologics (e.g., the right grasses with vitamins, dewormers, etc.), and infrastructure design that will enable efficient stall feeding.
Another area with a potential high ROI is the marketing of goat meat. This includes methods on getting the optimal goat meat cuts, packaging these cuts in an attractive way, and even specifying which cuts are ideal for meat preparations.
It is research like the one cited above, which results in more food production, increased jobs, and higher income, that the Department of Agriculture should fund with its proposed P54-billion budget for 2012. This 54-percent budget increase from 2011 should be fully supported by Congress. This and other such measures are now being discussed by the AF 2025 government-private sector poultry-livestock-feeds cluster for presentation during the October 7 AF 2025 midyear conference.
Ably supporting this effort are Juliet Opulencia, AF 2025 secretariat head, and Diane de los Santos, who handles the National Agriculture and Fishery Council secretariat for this cluster. Both are under NAFC officer in charge Noel Juliano. Any of them may be reached at (632) 9204309.
(The author is chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary for agriculture, and trade and industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail [email protected] or telefax (02) 8522112.