By Wallace Mawire
The Value Chain Alliance for Livestock Upgrading and Empowerment (VALUE) project in partnership with the Goat Breeders Association of Zimbabwe (GBAZ) has developed breeding standards for the Matabele and Mashona indigenous goats.
It is reported that the standards are meant to promote conservation, utilization of indigenous goat types in Zimbabwe, and provide a training guide for farmers, who keep indigenous goats, to be stud breeders.
“The development of the breed standards is important given that appropriate genetics are key to attaining the desired production, productivity, and market competitiveness in the goat value chain. This initiative was thus prudent to ensure in as much as the promotion of better framed exotic breeds is happening, breeding of the Mashona and Matabele Goats is not left out,” said Project Team Leader, Newton Chari.
The development of the indigenous goat breed standards is against a background of low commercial production of indigenous goats and is aimed at promoting indigenous goats stud breeding.
Renowned indigenous goat expert, Mr Joe Sikosana who was engaged to develop the breed standards said, “The compilation of breed standards will assist farmers to be stud breeders of indigenous goats and aid in the conservation of local breeds.”
GBAZ formed in 2018 to address challenges in the goat industry such as the absence of a formal structure, lack of economies of scale, training and value chain integration, low commercialisation, and poor institutional framework believes the development of these breed standards will assist in the promotion of the local breeds.
Chairperson of GBAZ and Managing Director of Zvikomborero Farms, Dr Divine Ndhlukula said “with over 4 million goats being owned by smallholder farmers, it is time that the goat industry gets the attention and support by ensuring the small holder farmers access technical training and expertise, work on improving their local breeds to transform the breeds for better growth to achieve commercialization that will in turn give them good financial returns from the goats.”
The VALUE project is part of the European Union funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) and is funded to the tune of €7.3 million to implement activities in the goat and pork value chains in 20 districts.
ZAGP is tackling challenges within the country’s livestock sector through financial support from the EU amounting to €40 million.
The programme is addressing the weaknesses and gaps in livestock value chains that have prevented the sector from increasing productivity, production and incomes to their potential.
Focus is on increasing profitability, building the capacity of farmers, service institutions, and private sector through increased investment, institutional reforms and policy alignment.
Under the goat value chain, the VALUE project partners ActionAid, Mercy Corps, COSV, Michview Enterprises and Zvikomborero Farms are working with small scale producer associations in 12 districts namely Buhera, Chikomba, Chipinge, Mudzi, Mbire, Rushinga, Beitbridge, Binga, Gwanda, Matobo, Lupane and Nkayi.
The project is expected to positively impact on the economic opportunities for 800 000 small-scale goat farmers.