Colin Wright: Bullish on ecotourism
Colin Wright’s attendance at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show was to showcase two head of cattle - bulls; one was of the French breed Charolais and the other a Jamaica Brahman. The veteran cattle breeder was on a mission to display both animals, not for their beef or dairy potential, but still with a marketing angle.
Patrons were apprehensive when invited to pet much less ride the animals, given their imposing size, but they, in fact, proved to be gentle giants – allowing any and everyone to mount them at will. And that was all part of Wright’s plan.
“I just want to exhibit them, to show how we can handle them. My intention is to do some ecotourism on my farm, and I want to use the two bulls as part of the programme to attract tourists to come and get up close and ride them,” he told The Gleaner.
When he did it back in the 1970s at Paradise Farms while working for someone else, the Braham bull was so popular its picture was “on every magazine on every plan”, given this one-of-a-kind attraction.
Now Wright is looking to surpass the success of that experience on his 376-acre cattle farm at Farm Pen, Ramble, in the parish of Hanover, and he is banking on its proximity to the tourism Mecca Montego Bay for a steady stream of overseas visitors.
“I am near enough to the hotels in Montego Bay, it’s a 30-minute drive from there. So I am planning to put in some horseback riding as well as teach people to ride, in addition to the bull riding of and my son is clearing a section of land to put in a dirt bike track on the farm. So we are trying to put in a comprehensive attractions package that will add to the value of the Jamaican tourism experience, given its uniqueness,” he disclosed.
The lifelong cattleman is confident of the attraction value of the bull-riding experience, given its success at the Hague Agricultural and Industrial Show in Trelawny.
“I had a guy ride one around the showground and the whole place went still, people were so surprised that it could be done. They had never seen anything like it before. I have a lot of experience in rearing and breeding cattle, so this is just my way of diversifying operations on the farm, given the state of the cattle industry.
“You have Bolt in athletics and now there is going to be Wright in livestock, because no one else has anything like this in Jamaica.”
The Charolais breed of cattle is very popular in France and is heavily promoted in other countries as well for its beef. Wright had a calf born weighing 105 pound in comparison to 70 pounds for his Red Polls, which he admits is a major advantage; and he has a herd in excess of 100. For some reason however, Jamaicans are reluctant to rear them.
“I don’t think they appreciate the value of them so you don’t get the right price, but a good bull is 50-75 per cent of the herd,” he explained.