Special goats to boost lo­cal farm­ers

Vil­lagers told their stock is a special ge­netic type

Sowetan - - Front Page - By Boi­tumelo Tshehle North West Cor­re­spon­dent

Goat farm­ing in North West has never taken off as most res­i­dents choose not to eat goat meat. But for vil­lagers liv­ing in Pella, near Rusten­burg, breed­ing goats could pro­vide a break­through into the international mar­ket.

The vil­lagers said they had not known the qual­ity and worth of their live­stock un­til a woman from their vil­lage, who is a PhD stu­dent in ge­net­ics, told them their breed of goats was in fact special.

Al­most ev­ery house­hold in ru­ral Pella keeps goats and sheep, but none have en­tered into com­mer­cial farm­ing.

The Agri­cul­tural Re­search Coun­cil (ARC) and 26 del­e­gates from 14 coun­tries re­cently vis­ited the vil­lage ahead of the 5th African Goat Im­prove­ment Net­work pro­gramme with the aim of cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity-based breed­ing pro­gramme to im­prove the ex­ist­ing goat gene pool.

In 2014, re­search by Ke­abetswe Ncube, a re­searcher from ARC and a Pella-born res­i­dent, found that the goats there grew faster than Nguni goats and were drought- and dis­ease-re­sis­tant.

Pella res­i­dent Shimmy Teme, who owns 88 goats, some of which he sells to lo­cals, said he did not know his goats were special and of a high qual­ity.

“Life is tough. I be­come happy when some­one pays me R800 for a nine-mon­thold goat. To me it’s a lot of money,” he said.

He said the breed­ing pro­gramme would help him with the pric­ing of his goats.

The coun­cil says the com­mu­nity-based breed­ing pro­gramme has the po­ten­tial to im­prove the liveli­hoods of goat farm­ers by help­ing them get higher in­comes, achiev­ing bet­ter food avail­abil­ity and by the pool­ing of the re­sources of par­tic­i­pat­ing house­holds.

The pro­gramme se­lected 40 farm­ers with 400 goats to take part in the project.

ARC’s Isaac Nt­shauba said: “Such a pro­gramme is im­por­tant for the sus­tain­abil­ity of the com­mu­nity goat breed­ing pro­gramme as farm­ers will be equipped with tools to bet­ter man­age their an­i­mals even af­ter the project has ended.”

He said the ben­e­fits of record-keep­ing in­cluded en­abling goat own­ers to mon­i­tor the health of their an­i­mals, im­prov­ing their abil­ity to se­lect an­i­mals by weight for sale and slaugh­ter, help­ing them to eval­u­ate the breed­ing per­for­mance of an­i­mals for ge­netic se­lec­tion and man­ag­ing an­i­mal weights prior to mat­ing to achieve bet­ter re­pro­duc­tion rates.

One of the del­e­gates from the US, Jen­nifer Wood­ward-Greene, said a lot of ef­fort had been put into en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of live­stock .

“It has not re­ally worked very well and we be­lieve that this is be­cause they (ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties) were breed­ing ex­otic breeds,” she said.

She said goats were not as highly re­garded as cows, but many peo­ple de­pended on them in the world, in Africa in par­tic­u­lar. She said most small­holder farm­ers rushed to sell their goats in­stead of breed­ing them.

“So part of this pro­gramme is to con­vince them that they have good goats, as they tend to be­lieve that they don’t have good goats. The breed­ing might be the prob­lem, not the goats.”

/ PHO­TOS TIRO RAMATLHATSE

The goats in Pella vil­lage, North West, grow faster than Nguni goats and are more drought-re­sis­tant.

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