by Bonnie Rukin
Muhidin Libah, Executive Director of the Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA), is passionate about goats, and he is happily raising 12 of them on one of the farms leased by Liberation Farms, where community members of all ages can enjoy interacting with the animals and contribute to their care. Libah knows quite well how many uses this animal provided to people in his homeland, including basic milk and meat, ceremonial practices, medicinal help for women after giving birth, and treatment for chicken pox. In Somalia, goat meat typically was not available to people in lower income groups, so they were more familiar with meat from camels and cows. In Maine, Somali families enjoy fresh goat meat at home in varied recipes, and it is featured – along with sambusas – in the offerings of Isuken Co-op caterers.
Finding Halal meat sources, which is required under Muslim beliefs and practices, can be challenging, and there is increasing interest in finding opportunities for raising goats and slaughtering them using Halal practices. Last year, Libah led SBCA in a collaboration with anthropology students at Bates College to create a report about raising goats in Maine. The research covered all relevant topics of housing, breeding, health, and management, and included many useful references.
At “Strengthening Our Roots Farmers Exchange,” a recent regional conference in Lewiston for multicultural farmers, Will Nunnally of N17 Cattle Company and Farm Assist presented a session focused on small ruminants, specifically goats. He promoted goats for better production, best bone-to-flesh ratio, the need for less acreage, and ease of handling. He described various breeds, such as Boer, Kiko, and Nubian for meat, and Saanen, Alpine, and Toggenburg for dairy products. He also touched on ways to achieve profitability through varied marketing strategies.
When SBCA’s Liberation Farms finds a permanent farm home, Libah is eager to expand his herd of goats and is supportive of ways to improve the production, slaughtering, and marketing of goat meat in Maine. With more awareness of need, community organizations are beginning to collaborate to develop strategic plans and funding for these projects. Amjambo Africa will update readers on the progress of this project.
Bonnie Rukin is the Coordinator of Slow Money Maine | www.slowmoneymaine.org