Vanuatu’s Director of Livestock is confident the nation will meet its targets on cattle farming, as long as land disputes do not impede its plans.
Vanuatu seeks to raise half a million heads of cattle by 2025, a mere five years away. Farming will concentrate on Erromango, Efate, Epi, Malekula and Santo Islands says the Department of Livestock and Small Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Biosecurity (MALFB).
While the Director of Livestock, Lonny Bong, is optimistic of achieving the target, he says the ambitious cattle project may take longer than five years to achieve its target, due to a number of factors including land disputes.
The Director confirms recent reports that calves “have been dropping” on farms as far down as Aneitum in the South and as far North as Santo, the biggest island in the country.
However Bong is confident that with improved breeding programmes, the quality and quantity of meat on each carcass will meet targets.
No other island country in the Pacific has attempted to embark on such an ambitious cattle programme, and Bong has acknowledged the European Union for recognising the importance of the country’s cattle restocking programme and injecting funds through EDF – 11 to finance it.
350 cattle farmers have been selected to participate in the project. “Our Officers will be deployed to enter the farms to carry out a farm survey on each farm”, Director Bong says.
“It is critically important to establish the base line data to measure progress. It is vital that we know the exact number of new calves that have been dropped since the introduction of the new heads”.
EDF – 11 will also be used to improve pasture, water accessibility, extension programmes, animal health programmes, training in cattle husbandry and other relevant programmes for farmers there.