POOR husbandry practices and cold weather in some of Manicaland’s rural and high veld areas have negatively affected efforts to increase goat production in the province, an official has said. This was revealed by director livestock and pastures research in the Department of Research and Specialist Services in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Mr Joseph Sikhosana, last week.
He said there was an increased demand for goat meat yet supply of the commodity was very inconsistent and low to satiate the market.
In an interview with The Herald, Mr Sikhosana said the initial investment needed for goat farming was significantly low, which made it possible even for resource poor farmers to start projects in the sector and later turn them commercial.
In drought prone areas, risk associated with goat farming is very much less compared to other livestock species, further observed Mr Sikhosana.
He challenged Government and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector to come up with initiatives that support the goat farming sector since it had everything needed to participate in the country’s economic turnaround plans.
“We urge Government to come up with programmes and initiatives that support increased agriculture production especially in the goat farming sector, which is not very demanding on the farmer, but still lucrative in terms of returns.
“Goat farming creates employment for rural people besides effectively utilising unpaid family labour. There is ample scope for establishing cottage industries based on goat meat and milk products and even diversify to value addition of the hides and fibre,” he said.
Mr Sikhosana added that there were lucrative regional and international markets for goat meat and other by-products.
“Abattoirs that deal with goats are failing to operate at full capacity because there are not enough goats to enable them to run at full-throttle,” he said.
Mr Sikhosana also lamented the prevalence of challenges such as poor breeding stock, theft, shortage of superior genetics for large breeds and unorganised local markets that were making it difficult for farmers to notice the beauty of goat farming.
He also reiterated that poor farm infrastructure and poor credit facilities were hampering efforts to increase goat production in the province.