Goat production and marketing: Baseline information for semi-arid Zimbabwe uri icon

abstract

  • The role of livestock in rural communities is changing rapidly. Goats are increasingly used to augment cash income and enhance food security, thus serving as an important component in household?s livelihood strategies, particularly in drought-prone areas. While much has been done to improve agricultural production in the small-scale sector, little is known and documented about the current state of goat production and marketing in the communal areas of Zimbabwe. This report aims to set a baseline of the current status of goat production and marketing in southwestern Zimbabwe.The report illustrates the main functions of goats. Basic statistics describe goat ownership patterns with regard to the socioeconomic profi les of goat keepers, and the responsibilities of different household members in day-to-day goat management and marketing. The current productivity of goat fl ocks and seasonal trends are illustrated, indicating major challenges that farmers face in goat production and marketing. The report then provides a detailed description of the current management practices and existing marketing systems, and illustrates differences between districts, proximity to markets, flock sizes, levels of education and gender.Goat mortality has been found to be the most important constraint. Farmers with few goats are unable to sustain their flocks, whereas those with larger flocks do not realize the potential benefits from goats due to high mortality rates. Poor access to animal health support, dry season feed shortages and inadequate housing are the most important immediate factors contributing to high mortalitiesand can generally be ascribed to a lack of information and poor service structures, both resulting from limited support given to the small stock sector by government and NGO support services.The study also shows that although many farmers attempt to sell goats, markets are underdeveloped, infrastructure is inadequate and market information is not readily available. This results in poor confidence in markets, high transaction costs and low prices for goats. It is hypothesized that improved market access will act as an incentive for farmers to invest more in goat production. Market development is thus singled out as the next important step in further developing the goat industry in Zimbabwe.Practical options to enhance the contribution of goats to food security and income growth are discussed, and priority interventions are recommended to service providers, development agents and policymakers in Zimbabwe

publication date

  • 2007