Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
A grouping of farmers from the Matabeleland region has formed an association, Matabeleland Goat Sheep Poultry Trust (MGSPT) aimed at enhancing small stock production and viability.
Health Excellence programmes coordinator Mr Dingaan Ndlovu said the Trust would enable farmers to pool their resources together as well as attracting funding from donors. The Trust has a membership of more than 200 farmers who have been participating in a number of training workshops organised by Health Excellence since the beginning of the year.
“The Trust will help us attract public funding because operating like a company doesn’t give us that leverage to attract public funding. The Trust will also help us create groups of farmers that we are going to work together with, like associations that are going to be affiliated to the Trust.
“It (Trust) will also help us to buy commodities in large quantities…the size of buying means that prices will be reduced at the end of the day. Through the Trust we can also engage a lot of technical personalities or experts, which we can bring together like veterinary doctors, research departments and extension services as well as organisations like ZimTrade,” said Mr Ndlovu who is also a member of the Trust.
He said the Trust would play a pivotal part in guarding against price disparities.
“A Trust can also help us control prices especially at community level where people come to buy goods at very minimal prices and where there are lots of goats, which are being sold to a lot of competing buyers, there is no mechanism to control prices to make sure the farmer is benefiting from the product.
“You realise that in most cases the prices buyers are offering at farm level are very low compared to what they sell at retail outlets. As a Trust we are saying we will be able to converse and speak to the farmers on the ground so that they understand that these are the prices we are agreeing on,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the Trust would also enable farmers to participate effectively on the export market.
“As we also come to talk about exportation or export market, we are going to move together as a Trust and make those farmers that can produce adequately for the export market do participate and benefit from that programme.
“Our Trust is going to be a bit different from others. We are not going to look at how much meat in Zimbabwe is going to be exported to other countries but we are looking at how many farmers are going to participate in the exportation of meat,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The Trust is also looking forward to acquiring land for animal breeding purposes.
“The Trust will also help us to possibly acquire land where we are going to do our own breeding stock and then farmers can benefit from that. For example if you look around, the farmers who are strong enough, I mean financially, are able to go to South Africa and special breeds like the Boer and the Kalahari, these are very expensive.
“What we are saying as a Trust is that we shall be able to acquire land and we can even talk to such entities like Matopos Research Station to do research on our behalf and farmers can get their product from within the country instead of going outside. We are also looking at moving up to creating our own outlets, retail outlets-for goat meat, instead of relying on individual abattoirs,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said in an effort to mitigate against the effects of climatic change farmers should consider rearing small stock.
“We chose to focus on small stock because I think it is a response to climate change. You find that it has become extremely difficult to keep cattle these days, it has become a preserve of a few and looking at the settlement pattern that we have now in Zimbabwe where big lands have been cut into smaller pieces to accommodate more people, land has diminished in terms of size and in terms of value that is the carrying capacity has also gone down meaning that in terms of keeping cattle it becomes really difficult,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the Trust would also work on improving the sheep population.
“The population of sheep isn’t much. Our attention is more on goats because that’s the meat, which is in demand so as we meet people who demand sheep the more we will upgrade those services,” said Mr Ndlovu. -@DNsingo