I recently visited the Sugarcane Feeds Centre (SFC) which is located in Longdenville Trinidad. This would be my first visit to SFC, I have been too many agri related places in Trinidad but SFC has always eluded me. For those who may not have the opportunity to visit, I will seek to peek your interest and take you on a short tour. As with most tours we start with some background and history.The Sugarcane Feeds Centre (SFC) is an institution of applied research, demonstration, development and training in tropical livestock production. It is located on approximately sixty (60) hectares of land at Longdenville, in Central Trinidad. The Centre was set up as a project in 1976 by the University of The West Indies (UWI) in collaboration with the University of Mc Gill Canada. In 2000, the centre was brought under the then Ministry of Agriculture Land and Marine Resources. The centre continues to be a semi autonomous institution and tries to utilize local and on farm materials as much as possible. The Centre’s programmes include aspect such as livestock and aquaculture training, research in tropical livestock feeding, breeding, management, slaughter, artificial insemination and collaborative work with various organizations such as CARDI and UWI.The Centre utilises locally appropriate ‘integrated farming’ production systems, while as best as possible minimising its impact on the environment. Their vision is “to be at the forefront in integrated agricultural livestock research and development, providing up to date, relevant technical information in the development of sustainable, adaptable production systems for the benefit of the national and regional farming community.”
The SFC has a wide range of livestock which ranges from small ruminants, milking cows, beef cattle, buffalypso/water buffalo, pigs, rabbits, poultry, conch, cascadura and tilapia. We began the tour ,firstly visiting the integrated aquaculture system in which the facilitator spoke about the red and silver tilapia, she showed us the ponds and explained the system involved in tilapia production (feeding and growth stages). We also learnt about the production of black conch and cascadura.
Following this we were taken to the rabbitry. I must confess the rabbits were larger than what i am accustom to seeing. We got to see baby rabbits and the suspended cages deep litter rabbitry system was explained to us.
We then moved onto the 50m3 fixed dome biogas digester which utilises effluent from pig waste. Quick note on biogas, it can be use for domestic purposes, lighting/ heating and in both agriculture/industrial.
The poultry section was also visited, we saw chicken as well as ducks and strange enough one geese.
Next stop was the pig production section where we saw boars and sows along with some piglets.The housing system was seen first hand, the pens were designed for easy cleaning, having a centralised drain that carries water and manure to the biogas digester. Care was taken in the design as seen by farrow pens which provide special protection to prevent sows from crushing their piglets. Management practices ranged from animal identification, record keeping, feeds and feeding to breeding.
It was quite obvious what our next stop was ,from hearing the sound of hungry sheep.The breeds of small ruminants reared at SFC are Sheep such as the Barbados Black belly and West African. We also saw one goat who liked the attention posing high for a picture.
If that you thought the tour was over think again, next was the Cattle unit with both breeds for dairy and meat production.We got a chance to see the Buffalypso up close, lets say they don’t like people.
The last stop was the compost production in which SFC produces 100% organic compost, from plant material. We saw the compost pile at different stages of composting. Compost provides nutrients for plants, improves soil structure and increases soil organic content. So to the point composting is definitely beneficial.
Are you tired from the tour? well it was certainly worth it. I would recommend all to visit the Sugarcane Feeds Centre, there’s alot to learn and for those who never knew Trinidad had this type of production I hope this post peak your interest into the agriculture sector of Trinidad and Tobago. I must also commend the facilitator of the tour she did a great job. Kudos!
Sneak peek Next Stop Central Farms hope you all like ducks!
For more click Sugarcane Feed Centre pics