Govt agricultural reforms spark hope for Zim’s economic revival

Leafias Mazviro

Zimbabwe’s agriculture system seems to going back on the track to the days when the country was the breadbasket of the southern Africa.

The Government have been implementing new agricultural mechanisms which were meant to awake a sleeping giant’s economy.

Value addition is one of the mechanism which is being preached by the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture.

In a research which was conducted by the Review and Mail reporters shows that goat farming is gaining momentum which saw many farmers venturing into the business of value addition in goat.

Goats play a vital role in the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe. They contribute to food security and can alleviate seasonal
food variability and avail- ability – directly through milk and meat production and indirectly through cash earned from the sale of their products.

Speaking in an interview with the owner of Goat Orders, a company which deals in goat value addition processes, Biriwasha Masimba said there is a very huge demand of valued added goat products in the Zimbabwean markets.

“There is a great demand for value added products, particularly God value added products, because they’re not available in the market.

“So there is a huge market for these kind of products in Zimbabwe,” he said.

He added that he is still facing some challenges with the supply chain. Currently farmers are still producing very goats to the market which ended up disturbing the supply chain.

“However, there are problems in the supply chain. The production levels of goats in Zimbabwe is still very minimal and is very unprofessional.

“So it’s very difficult to sustain a value added enterprise without going back to the productive aspects.

“So I would say the market is heavily there, but the production is still very much in its infancy.

“Goats in particular, have not been regarded as a profitable livestock enterprise.

“So you find that 95 percent of goat production is done in the rural areas by small- holder farmers who are not really concerned about the commercialisation of this particular livestock.

“And that in itself is the biggest problem in this value chain,” he added.
Masimba said it was not even hard for him to penetrate the market because goats are not even in the market.

“Goats are not available in this marketplace. You likely find them in very unhealthy sports talk about like near Koala, in Tinworld along the Kekman Road.

“That’s where you find goats, and that’s where goats are slaughtered in the abattoirs. You rarely find them.

So whilst it was not exactly easy, it was not difficult to create demand because of lack of availability of this particular item.”

In semi-arid areas goats have comparative advantages over cattle. Since they are more resistant to droughts, they utilise a wider diversity of plants and their higher reproductive rate allows populations to recover quickly.

As browsers they use different vegetation than cattle and thus allow farmers to make more efficient use of the available natural resources. In addition, goats play an important socio-cultural role.

Promoting goat production contributes to risk mitigation, particularly in drought-prone areas, and empowerment of vulnerable groups.

Some experts are saying goat farming business is a very profitable business to operate in Zimbabwe. The demand for goat meat is increasing. People want to try a different type of meat which is not chicken, beef or pork.

Goats are easy to keep and are very profitable as the feed costs are low due to the fact that they eat a variety of foods. An increasing number of farmers in Zimbabwe are keeping goats due to the high profits from the goat farming business.

Demand for goat meat is high and there is a lot of potential for the growth of the market.

However, Masimba said there is lot needs to be done in order to captivate the high production of goat meat and some value added goats
products like goat sausage among others.

“Farmers are lacking a lot of knowledge about goat farming. Goat farming is not regarded as a serious enterprise, so there’s a lot of lack of knowledge among farmers, which needs to be addressed at the Government level.

“The Government needs to really take this into account if we’re going to grow this value chain. the Government needs to put in place the right policies, the right funding, the right training schemes to help farmers to increase their levels of knowledge,” he added.

In recent, the president of Zimbabwe Emerson Mnangagwa commissioned then Bindura University of Education (BUSE) Goat Genetics and Artificial Insemination Center said that “Goat breeding projects and attendant value addition interventions will go a long way towards ensuring broadbased empowerment, wealth creation and lifting millions out of poverty within our society.”

He further suggested that these project must be deployed towards the realisation of robust and vibrant
rural industry systems supported by livestock production and related development of modern animal handling facilities.
The Goat Genetics and Artificial Insemination Centre is a welcome development that serves to get a grip on genetics as a key ingredient in sustainable and successful goat farming.

However, a lot of work still has to be done to unlock the potential and promise of goat farming that can uplift millions of our people from poverty.

Furthermore, and with a national goat herd of approximately four million, Zimbabwe is barely on the map of goat-producing countries.

According to media reports, most farmers have a long-enduring love and hate relationship with goats. They are seen as troublesome animals that are guaranteed to bring problems including invading into neighbours’ fields. Very little attention is given to goats which explains 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.

In addition, the market also poses a challenge as middlemen and the farmers only regard goats as an object for transaction.

Farmers seem to only 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.

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