Can a (pair) couple of goats improve life of a poverty-stricken family of a farmer? This is the purpose of the Department of Labor Bicol regional office in Legazpi with its implementation of the P2-million goat dispersal program.
DOLE hopes to reverse the plight of itinerant, seasonal sugar cane plantation workers (sakada) in Camarines Sur with goats.
While Camarines Sur is a small player in the national sugar (production) industry, it has around 600 registered sakadas working in 6,000 hectares of sugar cane plantation in the towns of Pili, Ocampo, Bula, Baao, Calabanga and Tigaon.
Majority of them or about 83 percent are small farmers with income below the poverty level.
The DOLE project has earmarked the complete distribution of 200 pairs (one male and one female) high breed goats among 200 identified sakada farmer-beneficiaries. (A pair of goat will then cost P10,000 based on the available figures. Hey, is there overpricing on the cost of the goat for breeding here?)
According to the agency, the dispersal project is geared for breeding. The recipients are required to pay back with the same number of animal heads out of the new stocks they would be able to produce.
Experienced and successful breeders say that goats do well in groups (herd), with pens, fencing, waterers and other infrastructure, including proper nutrition. That is why farmers need correct information and guidance on how to properly breed the animals. Otherwise, they could end up as “pulutan.”
But wait, according to Dr. Jonathan Nayga, director of Cagayan Valley Small Ruminants Research Center (CVSRRC), goat herding is important. At 8 months, a goat with good genes weighs 30 kilos and sell for P3,600.
There is gold in goats!