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Livestock Opportunities Workshop Benefits Local Farmers (September 16, 2008)

In a recent workshop hosted by the Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research and Extension Service (CREES), farmers on Saipan were introduced to innovative farming methods as well as grant opportunities to overcome livestock challenges.

Led by Dr. Allan Sabaldica from the NMC-CREES Tinian office, the “Livestock Opportunities”ť workshop held on Saipan focused on introducing local farmers and ranchers to low maintenance, high output animal holdings.

Dr. Sabaldica illustrated some creative animal housings made from old school buses or scrap wood, and also introduced homemade animal feeders. It was stressed that ranchers came up with theideas to build these low cost housing due to economic hardships in the CNMI which do not allow for more sophisticated devices.

At the same time, the ranchers were introduced to grants ! available from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) for unique ideas to overcome challenges in farming and ranching in the CNMI. Dr. Sabaldica invited the ranchers to submit grant proposals and offered technical advice and assistance in writing the grants.

According to its website, WSARE has funded 46 grant projects worth nearly $2.5 million in the last approval cycle. Grants are available to farmers, ranchers, students, and researchers in rural areas. Deadline for submission of proposals is December 5, 2008. Grant applications can be downloaded from http://wsare.usu.edu/news/pdf/WS4_2008_151347.pdf.

During the workshop, the ranchers pointed out that to be successful””even on a small scale””they would have to set up a cooperative that will help them lower prices for feeds through the ability to buy in bulk and to market their products. There is demand for local meat and dairy products. However, the ranchers pointed out the n! on existence of a slaughter house and USDA meat inspectors which preven t them from building up a sustainable industry. CNMI's ranchers may otherwise be able to produce enough meat to supply the whole CNMI with their products. There would even be enough left for export, especially to Guam where the population is expected to increase given the planned military build-up there.

Dr. Sabaldica noted that if the ranchers can set up their cooperative, NMC-CREES will be able to support them with marketing and promotion. He mentioned that the CNMI had a healthy meat and dairy industry until the early 80's and once was one of the main exporters in the region.

For more information about the Livestock Improvement Program, interested ranchers and farmers can contact Dr. Sabaldica at the NMC-CREES Tinian site via phone at (670) 433-2576 or email [email protected].

The same workshop was conducted on September 12 at the NMC Campus on Rota and another is planned for September 16 at the NMC Campus on Tinian.



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