Goat breeding a boon for Zimbabwe’s farmers

Goats in Zimbabwe - Swathi Sridharan - FlickrGoats withstand drought conditions much better than bigger cattle like cows. (Image source: Swathi Sridharan/Flickr)Goat breeding is coming to the rescue of many farmers and ranchers in Zimbabwe who have lost a lot of their cattle to the unusually hot and dry weather

Goats can survive on shrubs and need less manpower for tending to, making them a better choice than high-maintenance bigger cattle like cows, which are less tolerant of drought conditions.

“With rainfall patterns fluctuating in Zimbabwe, rearing cattle is becoming unsustainable. But breeding goats, which are drought-tolerant, can be much more rewarding,” Happison Chikova, an independent environment and climate change expert, told Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency.

At the beginning of this year, the Zimbabwean government distributed 10,000 goats for breeding stock and aims to increase the number to 44mn by 2018. This comes at a time when the South African nation’s cattle population has declined from 6.8mn in 2000 to the current 5.2mn.

“Investing in small livestock like goats, which have higher chances of survival in drought-prone areas, cautions the country against livestock loss,” Barnabas Mawire, country director for Environment Africa, said at a climate change workshop held earlier this month in Harare.

According to official statistics from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, there are approximately 136,000 goat breeders across the country, ranging from ordinary communal goat breeders to peri-urban goat breeders.

Chrispen Kadiramwando, president of Goat Breeders Association of Zimbabwe, told IPS, “Plans are imminent to boost production of goats in Zimbabwe’s dry regions where small livestock like goats thrive and we have identified meat export markets in countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria and the Middle East, where goat meat is a delicacy.”

USAID is supporting a training programme for goat husbandry and health management. The Zimbabwe Livestock for Accelerated Recovery and Improved Resiliency programme also trains community livestock workers on preventative and curative animal health techniques.

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