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NMC Partners with UH, University of Virgin Islands, and UOG to Launch Grazing Academy (November 5, 2009)

In its ongoing efforts to educate the community about innovative agricultural management practices, the Northern Marianas College has partnered with other colleges to launch the Marianas Grazing Academy, which is aimed at building local agricultural capacity and educating farmers and ranchers about increasing the economic viability of their products.

A project organized through a collaborative effort between the NMC Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service (CREES) and experienced pasture, livestock, and soil specialists from the University of Hawaii, University of the Virgin Islands, and the University of Guam, the Academy also seeks to enhance the production of high quality meat products, which can serve to improve food sustainability through the adoption of appropriate technologies and practices in grazing and livestock management.

“We’re really excited to be collaborating with the universities from Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Guam to make more training and professional development opportunities available for our farmers and ranchers,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez.

The Academy also seeks to provide local farmers, ranchers, technical resource personnel and other interagency collaborators with assistance and guidance in planning and developing special local projects to improve the economic viability of grazing activities in the CNMI.

The first segment of the Marianas Grazing Academy will involve a series of workshops that will be held on Rota in November 11, 12, and 13, and on Tinian on November 17, 18, and 19. These initial workshops will include training on pasture and livestock management issues, including forage production, grazing management planning, weed control, forage selection, animal health and treatment practices, meat quality and marketing, and mobile slaughter facilities.

“The team that has been deployed for this project has a vast network of livestock, meat processing, and marketing specialists as resource people which is sure to make for a high quality program” said Dr. Allan Sabaldica, NMC-CREES Livestock Specialist and local contact for the project. “Although this project period is limited to three years, we hope that this is only the beginning of a lasting working relationship that may lead into other projects with a similar focus of assisting producers in reaching their production and economic goals.”

The Marianas Grazing Academy organizing team is made up of livestock, pasture, and soil specialists that include: Dr. Mark S. Thorne (UH-Principal Investigator), Dr. Jonathan L. Deenik (UH), Dr. Robert W. Godfrey (UVI), Glen K. Fukumoto (UH), John S. Powley (UH), Matthew Stevenson (UH), Dr. Allan Sabaldica (NMC), Dr. Manny Duguies (UoG), and Lawerence J. Duponcheel (NMC).

“This project will benefit local producers throughout the Marianas Islands; we fully support this project and encourage all ranchers or interested parties to participate in the Grazing Academy training sessions,” said Mr. Joe Dela Cruz, President of the newly formed Tinian Cattlemen’s Association. “In this way, local ranchers can maximize their production while increasing profits per each head of cattle.”

To register for the workshops, please contact Alejandro Badilles on Rota (Tel. 532-9513) or Dr. Allen Sabaldica on Tinian (Tel. 433-2576).

The Marianas Grazing Academy project has been made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, CSREES Outreach for Disadvantaged Farmers &Ranchers (OASDFR).

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