Full Length Research Paper
In Zimbabwe, at least 97% of the national goat herd is owned by smallholder indigenous farmers. The farmers rarely breed the goats for commercial purposes despite the fact that the country has potential to export goat products. Common breeds in Zimbabwe include the Matabele goats, Mashona goats, Boer goats and the Kalahari goats. With this diversity of the goats’ population, there is need to move from subsistence to commercial production. The drought prone Inyati community is likely to benefit in terms of nutrition and economic security from the goat business. Goats are a rich source of meat (chevon), milk and skins products. While there is a market for goat meat locally, communities can exploit better opportunities in the Southern Africa region such as South Africa as well as beyond the continent, to the Middle East. Goat farming is a viable enterprise and farmers in Inyati district can prosper relying on their indigenous environment. The focus of the study is Inyati community, particularly the smallholder indigenous goat farmers in the area. A purposive sample of 19 goat keeping households was selected on the basis of their flock size from 8 villages under the Inyati community. Data were collected using semi-structured group interviews coupled with personal interviews involving three to four households per village as well as observations. Extension workers, as representatives on the ground were used in the collection of information from communities. Findings of the study revealed that there were management challenges in the rearing and marketing of goats by indigenous farmers. Among other challenges were factors such as high kid mortality and lack of good management practices among farmers, lack of information on the emerging commercial goat production system, economic viability, prospects and constraints of commercial goat farming in the country. Recommended for the study was information on marketing system for goats and their products, and the mechanisms stretch from village level to markets, both locally and abroad. The study came up with a model which promotes the sharing of information between commercial goat farmers in the country. The information shared includes quality of animal’s breeds (germplasm) which are critical for the strengthening of indigenous farmer goat enterprise in Zimbabwe.
Key words: Goat flock, goat breed, goat breeding, indigenous, small holder farmers.
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