Agriculture in the Falkland Islands
Much of the Falklands land mass is used for agriculture. The main product is wool, with an EU approved abattoir producing mutton and lamb for local and export markets and beef for local markets.
There are currently 82 farms, which are mostly family owned, totalling 1,135,663ha of land. In total these farms graze half a million sheep of various breeds including; Polwarth, Texel, Corriedale and an increasing Merino genetics. Approx. 60 of these farms also have a total cattle population approaching 4,500 which consist of Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Devon and Murray Grey breeds.
The environment here produces exceptionally clean wool. Falkland Islands does have a very good reputation for these traits in their wool trading. The approx. annual wool production for the Falkland is 1,641,819kg of greasy wool with an average weight of 3.85kg and a fibre diameter range of 16.8-32.2µm. There are also a number of farms that have organic certification which is a step towards marketing these attributes internationally.
The uniqueness of the environment also throws up its challenges, and it is towards these that the Department of Agriculture (DoA) directs much of its advisory and research efforts and resources.
Role of the Department of Agriculture
A prosperous and self-reliant agricultural sector that creates opportunities for Falkland Islanders and is highly valued locally and internationally.
To foster a viable and internationally competitive agricultural industry through integrated applied research, extension, business skills development and regulatory programmes.
The DoA provides research and extension support to improve profitability and sustainability of farming businesses. A profitable farming sector will support a population living outside Stanley and provide valuable produce for both domestic and export purchase. It is an essential part of the Island Plan. The goals of the FIP scheme are to improve profitability by assisting farmers to develop long term solutions to the problems of poor winter nutrition and low wool income. It is achieving this through enabling grazing management systems which will better nourish the sheep, improving pastures and crops and accelerating genetic progress.
We aim to improve genetics of sheep and cattle herds throughout the Falklands with Artificial Insemination and embryo transfer programmes. Using the National Stud Flock we also aim to improve reproductive performance of sheep flocks.
Sound health and welfare of farm animals is important, and apart from the normal pressures some further restraints imposed by those choosing the organic path will create further challenges for our veterinary section.