Sunday, February 25, 2018

Expert: Buffalypso still a good source of meat and milk A dying breed


The few remaining animals in Trinidad's buffalypso herd roam the pasture at Guayaguayare last week.

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More than 50 years ago, an animal imported from India was bred to produce beef.

The water buffalo in the land of calypso was named "Buffalypso" and is successfully producing milk from which mozarella cheese is made in Italy to supply a growing market in America and the world over.

In Bulgaria and Colombia, the buffalypso supplies milk and beef as it does in 19 countries where the animal was shipped more than 30 years ago.

In Trinidad, there is only one herd of buffalypso.

Dr Steve Bennet almost cried the last time he visited the Mora Valley farm at Guayaguayare.

"There was not much grass in the pasture and the herd had been reduced to nothing," he said.

Bennet, 88, began working with the water buffalo in 1949 at the Caroni sugar company.

The buffalo or bison were imported from India and used to transport sugarcane from the fields to the scales or the factory.

Caroni saw the potential of developing the animal as a diversification out of sugar.

Dr Bennet set out to straighten the topline of the animal, broaden the loin and rump to ensure the maximum production of meat and grow horns with small tight curls to prevent damage to other animals and stockmen.

Caroni in 1949 provided good quality feed and improved living and husbandry conditions for the animals. The success of the animal prompted the American government to provide a grant of $5 million to assist the industry.

In a recent interview, Bennet who lives at St Augustine said the animals contracted tuberculosis but were successfully treated.

He said until 1973, the herd was confined to Caroni but the animals were later sent to other farms.

In 1973, Tate and Lyle sold the sugar company to government and interest in the buffalypso was reduced.

It was noted at the time that buffalypso meat was better than that of locally grown steers and imported frozen beef.

On August 11 Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath toured the Mora Valley farm and asked for a report on the buffalypso to be submitted to Government as the People's Partnership set out to revive the agricultural industry.

Of the many imported into Trinidad during the early days of indentureship were the Murrah, Surti, Jaffarbadi, Nelli, Bhadawari and Murrah breed all used to develop the unique animal known as the buffalypso.

Bennet complains that no effort is being made to preserve the animal here in Trinidad while countries such as the USA, Cuba, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hondorous, Mexaco, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela have benefitted from the pioneering work of a number of researchers led by Bennet in producing the buffalypso.