The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THERE is a marked increase in the demand for goat meat with farmers called upon to take advantage of the low hanging fruit by keeping goats for commercial purposes to satisfy market demands.
In an interview, Value Chain Alliance for Livestock Upgrading and Empowerment (VALUE) project team leader, Mr Newton Chari said markets have emerged to consume about 50 to 60 percent of goat meat.
“VALUE is promoting more of direct meat marketing, which is influenced by how Harare and Bulawayo markets have emerged to consume about 50 to 60 percent of goat meat. We have also observed consignments stock supplied by the Goat Producers Business Associations selling quickly and we are still working towards supplying more butcheries,” said Mr Chari.
He said more than 400 butcheries have expressed willingness to access goat meat.
Mr Chari said they have ascertained that the demand for goat meat in both Harare and Bulawayo markets was “excessively huge” to a point of outweighing the supply chain.
“Organised farmers, with perfect sizes of goats who can aggregate and supply these markets consistently stand better chances of transforming their income base and enlarging their share in the governance of goat the value chain,” he said.
Mr Chari said keeping goats has been traditionally viewed as a low input enterprise and 90 percent of small to medium producers hardly applied any external input according to the scoping studies conducted.
Mr Chari said with some investment on animal health, appropriate breeds and nutrition, farmers would likely realise more in the profit margins.
He added: “Goats are easily adaptive and given the seasonal changes we have commonly witnessed, the enterprise can thrive with minimum disruptions. Farmers need to specifically work towards lowering mortalities and increase market competitiveness.”
The VALUE project is part of an EU-funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP), a response to the challenges within the country’s livestock sector.
Renowned indigenous goat expert, Mr Isaac Mpofu said the demand for goat meat was increasing as people wanted something different from chicken, beef or pork.
He said goats were easy to keep and very profitable as the feed costs were low due to the fact that they eat a variety of foods.
Mr Mpofu said: “Demand for goat meat is high and there is a lot of potential for the growth of the market. Goat breeding projects and attendant value addition interventions will go a long way towards ensuring broad-based empowerment, wealth creation and lifting millions out of poverty within our society.”
He, however, said most farmers had a long-enduring love and hate relationship with goats as they were seen as troublesome animals that bring problems including invading neighbours’ fields.
Mr Mpofu said very little attention was given to goats which explained the 65 percent pre-weaning mortality rate.
“Goats also tend to live in unbearable conditions that compromise their health with pneumonia being a leading killer. Farmers seem to care for their goats when they exchange them for money. No one is concerned about fixing the gaps in the supply chain that will enable bringing goats to the market in a fairer and transparent manner,” he said.
A goat farmer in Kezi, Mrs Florence Siziba said she had benefited from goat farming as a business and was working on improving the venture to unlock the full value and multiple functions of a goat.
“There is more to goats than just meat. Goat milk is thicker and creamier than cow’s milk or plant milks and has more nutrients that may offer health benefits. If you research, you will find out that the chemical characteristics of goat milk can be used to manufacture a wide variety of products, including fluid beverage products (low fat, fortified, or flavoured) and UHT (ultra high temperature) milk, fermented products such as cheese, buttermilk or yoghurt, frozen products such as ice cream or frozen yoghurt and butter among others,” said Mrs Siziba.
She said she was working on value addition of goat milk to create soaps, lotions and creams for all-natural skin care.
Mrs Siziba said goat milk has been used for thousands of years to soothe sensitive skin, hence she saw the need to create a skin care business that uses natural ingredients and the power of pure, ethically-sourced goat’s milk that will nurture the skin of one’s family, babies included.
Meanwhile, about five million households in different parts of the country are expected to benefit from the Presidential Rural Poultry and Goat Pass-On scheme that will see Government dishing out goats and chicks to empower rural families.
Beneficiaries will receive the goats and poultry for free, but will be expected to pass-on to the next recipients when the breeds give birth.