Ban on killing of female cattle will support restocking program: Seremiah

Heifers and breeding bulls unloading in the cattle restocking program which is still continuing in the islands of Vanuatu

By Jonas Cullwick

The ban signed by the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biodiversity, Matai Seremaiah, on killing of female cattle in the country has come into force after it was recorded in the government gazette Thursday.

The Female Cattle (Prohibition of Slaughter and Spaying) Regulations (Amendment) Order No. of 2017 was signed by the Minister Thursday. Spaying is a way of sterilizing (a female animal) by removing the ovaries.

Minister Matai Seremaiah explained to 96 BuzzFM’s the Vanuatu Nightly News host Kizzy Kalsakau that he took the decision to sign the order into force after a survey last year of smallholder cattle farmers revealed that the majority of the cattle that we have now are older cows. And the majority of the heifers (young female cattle) have been bought and sold to the abattoirs because of the demand for veal in Port Vila.

“Now, if we slaughter all the young heifers that means there will be not much productive cattle out there in the field and if you go out in the field especially in Santo you will notice that most of the small cattle farms are empty because the cattle are being slaughtered for the veal market,” he added.

In about 2012, the government of Vanuatu launched a strategy or a policy to achieve 500,000 cattle heads in 2025 and Mr. Seremaiah says that if we don’t take this measure then it will be impossible to achieve this target aim.

“We know that the Vanuatu beef is one of the best in the world and I as Minister have to make this tough decision to sign the order.”

He revealed that he has already been receiving calls and even text messages from some of the large cattle holder farmers in Port Vila challenging him on my decision but to be a responsible Minister I strongly believed he had to take that measure.

He is positive the ban will support the restocking program in which his ministry distributes female cattle and breeding bulls into the islands and the government is subsidizing the cattle to go out to the farmers to increase stock. They are not to be killed or sold in the market.

“Everyone admits that the cattle stock in Vanuatu is in a critical stage, and as such I have no other alternative other than to order this ban.”

There are provisions in the ban where, if a farmer has too much stock in his yard all he has to do is go to the livestock officer in his area and ask for a permit, which will get the livestock officer to go and verify if there is not enough feed then together with the Department of Livestock they can come up with a solution.

Additionally, the Minister said he is taking a paper to the Council of Ministers next week for approval of some funding to be allocated to the Department of Livestock through the ministry so that if there is overstocking the government through the farmer can distribute the heifers to other farmers to breed.

The situation with cattle stocks will be reviewed in two to three years’ time and should there be need for a review of the ban arise that would be considered.

Meanwhile, Minister Seremaiah confirmed that the cattle restocking program is still continuing and this month restocking will take place in the Shepherd Islands and Sanma.

Interestingly also to farmers is that government has the funding from EDF11 coming up that will also support the cattle industry in pastures and all other value chain issues that will be able to addressed with EDF11 funding.

“To achieve our target of 500,000 cattle heads we need female cattle as female cattle are the ones that give birth to new breeds.

“We don’t not have the money to get female cattle from outside the country to help our numbers up, so, as our beef is good we need to look after our stocks and get our numbers up through as measures as this ban.

“I’m urging all farmers to comply and assist the government get our beef which is one of the best in the world to get back to where it is supposed to be.

“We’re working hard to get our beef industry to where it is supposed to and we need all the support from the farmers,” the Minister for ALFFB concluded.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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