Fort Valley State University goat experts travelled to Myanmar to help communities in Asia. From left to right at the Myanmar Livestock Federation: Dr. Shamsul Kabir, translator and trip coordinator; Dr. Moe Myint, Mayanmar Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries official; Mr. Schauston Miller, FVSU research professional; and Dr. Will R. Getz, FVSU professor.
In a country far away there is a potential business idea that could reshape communities in Asia, but the people of Myanmar have a big problem – monsoons.
The tumultuous downpours in the country, once known as Burma, are preventing entrepreneurs in the southern region from meeting a high demand for goats. These animals are eaten as often as chicken is here in the United States, said Schauston Miller, a research professional at Fort Valley State University, who traveled to the country in December.
The people in the southern part of the country are trying to figure out how they can profit from raising and selling goats like their fellow countrymen in the north. The increase in goat population in the north is probably due to the extremely dry conditions that exist in that region of the country, Miller said.
“Goats detest rain,” Miller said. “I didn’t really see many goats in the southern part of the country, in the Yangon area, but in Mandalay, in the north that gets less than five inches of rain annually, there are thousands of heads of goats there.”
Miller, who’s been working with goats more than 25 years, travelled to Myanmar with Dr. Will R. Getz, a professor who has since retired from FVSU. They were there three weeks, beginning Dec. 1, to develop a plan that they hope could combat this issue.
“Because goat meat is in high demand in Myanmar and Southeast Asia, goat owners can enhance household income and food security by improving productivity and expanding their herds into new regions by using appropriate supplemental feeds during dry periods, identifying the most adapted breeding stock, applying necessary animal health practice and using effective housing,” Getz said. “Our main focus was on helping improve human lives by suggesting appropriate animal husbandry and marketing plans.”
The duo decided that goats could be isolated from the inclement weather by building long sheds with compartments. This is a more intensive operation since the animals would have to be fed and confined indoors for the four or five-month of the monsoon rains that usually end in August. The pens would have to be cleaned consistently to prevent the build-up of ammonia and illnesses from the spread of bacterial infection, Miller said.
Also during their trip, the researchers visited many people in the northern and southern regions of the country. They offered advice, including how to check goats for parasites, and what breed and types of goats they may want to raise in the southern region of Myanmar.
“It was nice to be able to use my expertise to help others,” Miller said. “This trip was very productive because from the minute we arrived we were on the go. We toured businesses, visited the homes of those who raise goats, gave presentations and had conferences with scientists and businessmen at the headquarters of the Myanmar Agriculture and Fisheries, and the news media was present at those conferences.”
Miller and Getz sent a report to Winrock International. This global nonprofit organization based in Little Rock, Ark., addresses rural development and sustainable resource management through education and empowerment programs. Winrock, which solicited help from the researchers, sponsored and coordinated the trip.