THE European Union-funded Value Chain Alliance for Livestock Upgrading and Empowerment (VALUE) project is establishing goat improvement centres (GICs) across the country’s six provinces as part of its effort to boost small livestock production.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
VALUE project is part of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) supported by the European Union (EU) and the government.
In its latest newsletter, ZAGP said a study into the goat value chain in Zimbabwe by the VALUE project revealed that lack of formal goat selling facilities was a great barrier to the development of competitive and sustainable goat sub-sector enterprises, including but not limited to goat meat.
“In order to address this and other bottlenecks in the value chain, the project is establishing goat improvement centres (GICs) in the twelve districts of operation across six provinces,” read the newsletter in part.
“During the nationwide COVID-19-induced lockdown, work on the construction of the GICs commenced in Mudzi, Lupane, Beitbridge, Matobo and Nkayi districts. The centres are being built on land allocated by the rural district councils with project farmers and local contractors in each district taking a leading role in the construction.”
VALUE is working with support from two private sector integrators — Michview Enterprises and Zvikomborero Farms.
The GICs will provide primary business support services such as hands-on training for goat farmers, goat breeding services, fodder seeds and plants, holding pens for off-taking of the goats and vaccines.
Lindani Ncube of Michview Enterprises said one of their roles was intergrating the small-scale farmers and ensure that there is aggregation of stocks for bulk supply to markets.
“In addition, through training and capacity building initiatives at the GICs we will ensure that small-holder farmers adopt the principles of commercial goat production,” he said.
Divine Ndhlukula of Zvikomborero Farms said: “As an integrator we are involved in the setting up of the goat improvement centres where we will be offering support to farmers in the form of spearheading cross-breeding of local goats with the improved genetics, training and extension services, supply of drugs and vaccines, growing fodder crops for feed supplements and off-taking their goats for markets.”
In addition, the district level goat producers business associations will spearhead the utility of the centres to provide services to farmers in their regions by offering services such as aggregation of live goats for bulk marketing, access to improved genetics, both exotic and indigenous goats.
It will also offer animal nutrition, animal health services, extension services, platform for external service provision, exhibition fairs for suppliers and service providers to showcase their products as well as demonstration of green technologies and practices.
Experts say goats withstand drought conditions much better than cattle and they can survive on shrubs, making them a better choice compared to cattle, which need better care at the same time being less tolerant to drought conditions.