Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Writer
Zimbabwean farmers have joined regional drive to commercialise the goat production industry with investment being deliberately channelled towards the sector.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Devine Ndhlukula, through her Zviko Farms, has taken a leading role and has been on an aggressive drive importing the best goat genetics mainly from South Africa and Namibia.
The famed Boer goat as well as the Kalahari red, which stand out for their commercial viability and meat quality with carcass weights as much as four times better than local breeds, are increasingly becoming popular with local breeders.
Zviko Farms working with several experts, some of them from Government departments, has also introduced goat rearing training workshop targeting farmers and farm workers as well as conscientising them on the economic potential of the goat industry.
The programme is in line with Government’s recently launched Command Livestock, which according to Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri (Rtd), is aimed at improving the supply of animal-based products to meet national food and nutritional needs and be competitive enough to meet export market requirements.
The programme, according to Minister Shiri, will need a capital injection of $432 million.
Addressing farmers at one of the workshops, Grasslands Research Institute Chief Livestock Research Officer Accadius Tigere, said with increasing pressure on land due to population growth, the goat is the best animal to substitute for cattle rearing that requires larger swathe of land.
He said there has been an increase in demand for the animal, both from start-up breeders, development agency that seek to empower vulnerable groups through goat rearing as well as the consumptive market that remains short supplied.
“There are issues to do with land where most farmers, naturally, do not have as much land as they would ordinarily want to,” said Tigere.
“A piece of land that can accommodate five herd of cattle can as well take up to 50 goats and the goats come with an added advantage of multiplying at a faster rate than cattle so I would say the goat is a better investment.
“The demand is also very good, not only from farmers looking at growing their stock, but also from development agencies and the meat as well is increasingly becoming very popular,” he said.
For the health conscious the goat is also being preferred over other red meats because its low levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, combined with its high iron and protein content.
Ndhlukula said there has been a lot of work in the background in trying to commercialise the goat and the response from farmers has been good.
“If there is a business that’s low cost but with very good returns, then it’s commercial goat rearing,” said Ndhlukula.
“Our wish as Zviko is we want to play in commercialising this industry, which many of our people are very comfortable with but just that the scale that they are doing it is the problem and that is why we are also pushing for these breeds (boer and kalahari red).
“There is really nothing to stop us as a country to go into goat exports but again the goats have to be of the best quality that can compete on the international market. We have been working on the commercialising side for a while and on the 21st of this month, we will be launching an association of breeders recognised by the Zimbabwe Herd Book and this will also help farmers from being fleeced by suppliers who claim to be selling pure breeds,” she said.