The number of horses in East Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), is declining with only 4,205 horses reported in the area this year, a regency livestock official says.
“The declining numbers in East Manggarai is believed to be attributed to a lack of interest of residents to raise the animals due to the presence of two and four-wheeled vehicles in many villages previously served by horse and cart,” East Manggarai Agriculture, Plantation and Livestock Office head Donatus Datur told The Jakarta Post in Borong on Thursday.
Yet, the number of buffaloes in East Manggarai has not shown signs of decreasing. Data complied by the office showed that there were 9,000 buffalo spread over the six districts of the regency. “Buffalo numbers are not declining as they are still being used to plough the fields,” said Datur.
The increasing population of buffaloes is not significant because they mature longer compared to cattle. Buffaloes reproduce once every two years while cattle breed once a year.
Datur said that the number of cattle had risen sharply in East Manggarai. Data gathered last year showed that there were as many as 12,000 head of cattle, which indicated that a majority of local residents raise cattle rather than buffaloes or horses.
Datur added that buffaloes were still being used by farmers to plough the 14,488 hectares of rice paddies found in the regency, with only some farmers making use of tractors.
In Manggarai regency, the administration has focused on improving livestock, fishery and marine sectors to improve the welfare of community members. The districts of Satarmese, West Satarmese and Reok in Manggarai regency are areas with fertile soil, high rainfall, and vast grass plains, Manggarai Fishery, Maritime Affairs and Livestock Office head Mantara Joseph said on Thursday.
“Manggarai livestock data in 2011 recorded 21,870 heads of cattle, 6,767 buffaloes, 33,250 pigs, 9,213 goats, 132,008 chicken and other poultry, 145 horses and 36 sheep,” Mantara said.
According to Mantara, the provincial administration and the central government are planning to focus on livestock breeding on the island of Timor.
However, West Flores, which includes Manggarai, West Manggarai and East Manggarai regencies, has tremendous potential in the livestock sector.
Timor is known as an area with low rainfall compared to the western part of Flores.
Mantara said that the office will provide counseling to livestock farming groups, such as Tado village in Satarmese district and Borik village in West Satarmese.
Mantara also said that he was positive about the potential of the area, and confident that livestock numbers in Manggarai would exceed those in other areas of NTT. Manggarai was keen to make livestock breeding a prime sector in the area, he said.