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Tarama Village now ‘going to the goats’

Date Posted: 2006-02-10

A small southern Okinawa village that refused to participate in a merger last year is staking its financial future on goats.

Tarama Village on Miyako Island had been invited to join a merger with other municipalities in the region, but chose instead to stay independent. Villagers have decided raising goats and selling goat meat and goat products is their ticket to financial freedom. The village hopes to build itself up and promote the area as a tourism destination in the Miyako chain.

The village founded the Tarama Goat Promotion Work Committee the first of January, selecting goat meat and goat milk production as the initial projects for promotion. “Let’s build the goat ranches,” said one community leader, “and let’s bring the tourists to the island.”

Outsiders are watching the Tarama Village in action, wondering if goats can be enough to resurrect a nearly financially wrecked community. They know the fierce independence of the villagers who rejected the merger deal, and they say it will be interesting to see how life can be restructured without city or prefecture subsidies.

Tarama Village now has more than 850 goats, but they have yet to build a goat meat production facility. The Okinawa Prefecture is lending some help and assistance to residents, “but not too much,” according to one. Most villagers support the promotion, although some of the young people complain they don’t like goat meat, and they don’t like the strong smell of goat.

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