SUVA, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The increased preference of Fijians and tourists for sheep and goat meat has spurred Fijian farmers' market opportunities to invest in these animals, according to a press release issued by the government on Tuesday.
The import value of mutton currently exceeds 40 million Fiji (about 18.64 million U.S. dollars) and 970,000 Fiji dollars (about 451,923 U.S. dollars) for goat meat.
Fiji's Minister for Agriculture Mahendra Reddy attributed this preference to Fiji's growing population and urbanization while opening a project-planning workshop to improve the production and supply of small ruminant for Fiji and Samoa, another South Pacific island nation.
"Sheep and goat farming is one of the major livestock commodities in Fiji in terms of its economic and social importance," Reddy said at a workshop in Nadi, Fiji's third largest city.
"The sheep and goat farming in Fiji is not only the target for food security, however, it actually acts as income security especially for insurance to many farmers in Fiji for their daily cash flows. For the majority of the small ruminant farmers, goat and sheep farming was originally a hobby but eventually, it ends up with fulfilling the local market demands especially during holiday seasons."
In 2018, Fiji's goat industry produced 9.2 tons of goat meat from the formal market and about 184.8 tons of lamb from the informal market, while the sheep industry produced 2 tons of meat from the formal market and about 100 tons from the informal market.
"The small ruminant industry is currently stabilizing in both Samoa and Fiji however, it needs more attention for growth and development through research and development activities in terms of improvement in genetics, nutrition components, pest and diseases and response to changing environmental conditions," the minister added.
A total of 1,541 goat farms are now registered in Fiji with a total stock of 63,041 while there are 685 registered sheep farms with a total stock of 27,697.