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Powering agribusiness with improved goat value chains

Blog post by Raymond Erick Zvavanyange, Social Reporter covering the Study Tour on “Coping with Climate Change through Livestock” in KwaZulu-Natal, from 26 – 28 October 2016.

October 28, 2016

The World Bank has projected agribusiness to be worth an estimated USD $1 trillion dollars by 2030. To realise this worth, more attention needs to be given to often neglected sectors, such as the goat industry, and in particular improving goat value chain, as the basis for agribusiness development in rural communities. The World Bank report continues that farmers and agribusinesses need to be connected with consumers in an increasingly urbanised Africa.

An example of where to start in powering the shift in Southern Africa climate-resilient farming is through the development of goat value chains. This step can be done in addition to adopting best practices in goat health and husbandry.

In South Africa, the focus of a Study Tour on Coping with Climate Change through Livestock in KwaZulu-Natal, from 26 – 28 October 2016, organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), with its counterparts in South Africa, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mdukatshani Rural Development Project, Heifer International - South Africa, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, is a good place to start.

participants raymondParticipants reading through the goat production handbook at the Study Tour Strengthening Capacity of Livestock Farmers through Farmer-to-Farmer Sharing of Climate Resilient Practices held on 26-28 October, 2016 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. © Simon Wandila

Developing the goat value chain

The South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries states that the country is a relative small goat producing country and possesses only approximately 3% of Africa's goats and less than 1% of the world's number of goats. South Africa also has a number of goat breeds which include the Boer goat, Savanna and Kalahari Red, which are reared on a commercial basis, for the production of meat, skins and cashmere.

Goats are 'resilient' animals, which are capable of surviving in tough environments, and yet generally, the development of the goat value chain tends to be left to the informal sector – market and discussions – and subsequently, 'ad hoc' agribusiness. This undervaluing of a crucial sector to agribusiness development and food security has to change in fundamental ways. Goats can take the centre stage in agribusiness.

The Goat Agribusiness Project

Participants, all drawn from various Farmers' Organisations and Institutions in Southern African countries in the Study Tour, are exchanging in a free manner, ideas and innovative ways to deal with the threats of climate change through livestock. They have underscored the necessity of a fully developed goat value chain, even in the midst of severe droughts and related weather hazards.

The Goat Agribusiness Project, led by the the Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW), is showing that improving goat value chains is a necessary step to realise the promise and potential of African agribusiness. As researchers, development practitioners, and farmers continue to share best practices and drought mitigation strategies in Southern African countries, it is important that goats are seen as part of the force behind rural economies. Perhaps, the bonus insight shared in one of the Study Tour's visits in the Jozini project site, KwaZulu-Natal, was the acknowledgement that goats protect the environment, as they can assist humans to deal with bush encroachment.

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About the author and the study tour

raymondRaymond Erick Zvavanyange is the Zimbabwe Country Representative of the global network of Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD). He participated in the CTA-led Study Tour for Farmers on Coping with Climate Change through Livestock as a social reporter. The study tour enabled approximately 20 smallholder farmers in Southern Africa to learn from fellow farmers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The farmers in KZN hosted their counterparts, accommodated them in their own village for intensive interaction, and identified best management practices for livestock during drought, including the production of nutrient blocks and fabrication of the block-making tools as a job-creation mechanism for youth.