Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THERE is a need for the country to improve the quality and population of its goats before exploring lucrative export markets, an expert said.
Health Excellence programmes co-ordinator Mr Dingaan Ndlovu said although there was a huge export market for goats it was prudent for producers to put more emphasis on animal husbandry issues.
Health Excellence is a Bulawayo-based agricultural consultancy firm.
“The number of goats that we got in the country in terms of the population is not very healthy, especially when it comes to export marketing. We have also engaged Cold Storage Commission to give us an insight on whether it will be possible for us to export goat meat.
“The quantities that are needed in the external market are so high that with the number of goats that we have at the moment we won’t be able to satisfy the market demand. So looking at that point we are then now saying let’s motivate farmers to increase the population of goats here in Matabeleland and maybe in the country as a whole,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The country needs to export meat from at least 1 500 goats per week to meet the demand in United Arab Emirates, Uganda and Angola with Angola alone requiring 25 tonnes per week.
The export price of goat meat ranges from $9 to $10 per kilogramme.
“In our workshops we are dwelling more on the issue of goat husbandry which means these are issues of production and productivity before we dwell much into marketing. For now we are saying the local market is there, people can actually sell goats here before even talking about big quantities outside the country,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said there was a need for capacity building and to provide extension services mostly to communal farmers.
“Our idea is to do capacity building and provide extension, which is information getting to the farmer as a way of increasing involvement by the rural farmer and those in the resettlement areas so they bring goat production as an enterprise or as a commodity that must be seen as a source of money, we are still pushing for that.
“We need to talk more about marketing because for now we are talking more on the husbandry, the stockman ship, how to take care of goats, how to understand goats, how to make them reproduce, we are looking at those issues. We are also looking at the issues of feeding, the farmer should be innovative in making their own feed,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said communal farmers were failing to realise real value from their goats as a result of being duped by some unscrupulous buyers.
“We are not satisfied with the way our communal farmers are marketing their goats or the real value they are getting from their goats as products. You will agree with me that most of these farmers who are in the communal areas who are the actual custodians of the population of goats are the poorest, meaning that they are not deriving the satisfaction that they should be deriving from their product.
“The person who really gets the satisfaction is the one who comes and buys from them, slaughters at a consumer market in town and sells that meat at a very high price and goes back to buy from the same producers. In our view we are saying we want to take up this initiative not only with the few elite or the few that are able to attend our workshop, we need to go down to the grass roots . . . ,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He further stated that there is need to improve the quality of goats with regards to improving the carcass weight.
“We need to upgrade the indigenous goats by bringing the new blood of either the Kalahari or the Boer goat so that in terms of weight, growth rate, feed convention efficiency they are far better than those that are purely indigenous, meaning therefore, that if you are raising goats that are purely indigenous versus the other one who has already upgraded you are likely to be running a bit slower than the other one because at the same age the upgraded goats will attain a higher carcass than the indigenous ones,” said Mr Ndlovu. -@DNsingo