INCREASING FOOD SECURITY THROUGH IMPROVED GOAT PRODUCTION: A PROGRESS REPORT
OF A UNCF-FUNDED INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LANGSTON UNIVERSITY
AND ALEMAYA UNIVERSITY
Getachew Animut1, Roger
C. Merkel2 and Tilahun Sahlu2
1Department of Animal Sciences, Alemaya University, P.O. Box
138, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
2E (Kika) de la Garza Institute
for Goat Research, Langston Universty, Langston, OK USA
In Ethiopia, agriculture in general
and livestock in particular play pivotal roles in the nations economy. The
majority of the population depends upon agriculture for their livelihoods.
Livestock are an integral component of the farming systems present in Ethiopia;
cattle, horses, donkeys, sheep and goats serve various functions from supplying
draught power to meat and milk production to serving as a source of savings.
Despite its importance to the country, the livestock sector has traditionally
been neglected in terms of formulating appropriate development strategies and
a suitable marketing infrastructure for livestock and livestock products (Tilahun,
1994). This has led to livestock contributing less to Ethiopias economy than
its importance and size would suggest.
The Harar highlands are
densely populated with some areas recording a population density of over 300
(Wagayehu and Habtemariam, 1994). Crop-based livestock farming systems are the
dominant agricultural system of the region. Although many species of livestock
are raised in this area, recent trends suggest that goat raising is on the
increase. In this region, as well as in Ethiopia at large, goats can play
a role in combating two challenges faced by the rural population of suboptimal
food security and self-sufficiency and low income generation. Goats have
the ability of producing milk and meat under harsh environmental conditions that
might limit productivity of sheep and cattle. Goats also require a lower
initial investment than cattle and have lower housing and feed requirements per
animal. As a result of these characteristics, many farmers are turning
away from larger ruminants and finding goats an attractive investment.
There are an estimated
18 million goats in Ethiopia (FAO, 1988) that are kept in a wide variety of
production systems, reflecting the diversity of the Ethiopian environment. Approximately
two-thirds of the goat population is believed to be kept on rangeland and associated
lowland areas while the remaining one-third is found in small flocks on mixed
highland farms. Goats serve many important purposes for their owners. They are
a valuable source of milk, meat, and immediate cash income and their role as
savings and investment assets cannot be overlooked. In addition to their direct
roles on-farm, goats contribute to Ethiopias foreign income earnings through
skins supplied to the tanning industry and in the form of live animal export.
Often, goats are the only milk source to children of the poorest families. The
demand for this milk is so high that in some areas milk is diluted with water
to distribute and nourish a greater number of children.
Despite their value and
importance, the productivity of goats in Ethiopia and in the highlands of Harar
in particular is constrained by various complex factors involving biological
and environmental aspects as well as socioeconomic factors. These include:
knowledge of the on-farm feed resource base, its utilization and seasonal variability.
This has hampered efforts on formulating appropriate feeding and nutrition strategies
to overcome the decreased animal productivity due to seasonal feed shortages.
v Poor description of Ethiopian goat genotypes. Some research
has been conducted to identify the different goat phenotypes of the country
and to characterize their major habitats (FARM Africa, 1996). However, the genetic
potential of Ethiopian goats for meat and milk production and for factors such
as resistance to disease or parasites has not yet been quantified.
formulation of strategies designed to combat the diverse array of animal diseases
present in the country and the lack of effective health delivery services.
Little emphasis has been paid to goats in this area.
v The absence of good extension services that address
the production of livestock in general and goat owners in particular.
v Lack of well-structured marketing facilities and a lack
of processing facilities for production of goat products.
v Goats have been wrongly associated with environmental
degradation. As a result, little attention has been paid to goats by policy-makers,
development administrators, and researchers.
Attempts have been made by non-governmental
and governmental organizations to exploit goats for the benefit of the rural
poor in the Harar highlands by improving their productivity through research
and extension. The British non-governmental organization FARM Africa initiated
a Dairy Goat Development Project (DGDP) in 1988 in collaboration with governmental
and non-governmental organizations found in Ethiopia. The projects aim was
to increase income and raise the nutritional status of the rural poor, especially
women and children living in the densely populated Harar highlands. It was only
after DGDP intervention that research and development interests in goats have
The DGDP of FARM Africa began improving
goat productivity through crossbreeding the indigenous stock (Somali breed)
with the exotic Anglo-Nubian breed. The resulting crosses were distributed
to farmers along with improved feed and health packages. Project results showed
that milk and meat outputs were increased, leading to an average increase in
gross per capita income of 19% for the beneficiaries (Wagayehu and Habtemariam,
1994). However, the long-term success of a goat improvement strategy based on
crossbreeding with exotic breeds remains unproven (Wagayehu and Habtemariam,
Whereas crossbreeding with exotic
breeds has been shown to increase productivity, the potential to improve local
goat breeds through selection and breeding is unknown. Additionally, data on
the on-farm productivity of local goats is lacking. Recently, in a collaborative
project conducted with Langston University (LU), Langston, OK, USA Alemaya University
(AU) distributed local goats to nearby rural poor womens groups with the intention
of helping them improve their livelihood and collecting information on the on-farm
productivity of local Somali goats. Another project goal is the establishment
of a nucleus herd of the Somali breed to provide breeding stock and for assessment
of their on-station performance.
2. The Collaborative Project between Alemaya University
and Langston University
The collaborative project between LU and AU is an Institutional
Development Partnership Activity (IDP) funded by the United Negro College Fund
with monies designated for this purpose by the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID). The IDP program is designed to:
strengthen the ability of institutions in developing countries to meet national
economic and social development needs; assist in the achievement of USAID goals
and strategic objectives of country USAID Missions; and to further the
international involvement of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities of
the United States. With these criteria as a backdrop, LU and AU formulated
an IDP project with the following partnership aims:
v Increase the ability of AU staff in meeting the development
needs of the surrounding region.
v Strengthen the capacity of both AU and LU in achieving
their educational missions.
v Enhance food security in the AU region.
The above partnership objectives
were set in accordance with the Special Objective of the USAID Mission in Ethiopia
of enhancing food security through increased household income and improved family
health status. Project objectives also support a Strategic Objective of the
Greater Horn of Africa Initiative of strengthening African capacity to enhance
regional food security.
The goals of the collaborative
project were planned to be accomplished through the following activities.
v Establishing collaborative research at LU and AU
v Training AU staff at LU
v Establishment of developmental groups that target women
in development through the provision of goats and training to women groups
Regarding the first two
goals, collaborative research at both institutions is already underway. Another
important aspect of the project is the training of AU staff in goat research
methodology and extension at LU. This was designed to assist AU staff in building
their capability to conduct research and to better help the region surrounding
AU in achieving regional food security. From May to November, 1999, one AU
staff member, Mr. Getachew Animut participated in a six-month training at LU.
In August 2000, a second staff member, Mr. Mengistu Urge, traveled to LU to
participate in a similar training program. The remainder of this report will
focus on the development project carried out at AU.
3. Activities Accomplished in the Establishment of Womens Groups
A main objective of this project
was to enhance food self-sufficiency among the rural poor households around
AU. This was to be accomplished through the establishment of a project that
targeted women in development through provision of goats and training to womens
groups. In the conduct of this objective, the following activities have been
3.1 Site Selection
Two extension sites near
AU were selected. The two sites were selected to represent an area either dominated
by a crop called chat (Catha edulis) or by maize and sorghum. In each
extension site three villages were identified resulting in six villages involved
in the project (Table 1). The sites and villages were selected in consultation
with extension agents working in the area. More than one village in each site
was selected to prevent placing all of the distributed goats in one village.
This was done so that:
v A wider area
would be covered by the project. This would result in selection of more
appropriate target groups (women) and in broadening project impact.
v The probability
of overstocking leading to overgrazing and feed shortages would be
Table 1. Selected sites, villages and
number of selected households for the project.
Chat dominated area
Maize and sorghum dominated area
No. of farmer
No. of households selected
No. of farmer
No. of households selected
3.2 Womens Group Selection
A format was prepared to register
all the households of the selected villages. Family size, livestock holdings
and major crop types cultivated were recorded as indicators of poverty to help
in the process of selecting
the collaborative womens groups for the project. Before selection of target
groups, all women in the selected villages were called to a meeting where the
project was discussed. Goat production was explained as well as the terms of
participation, i.e., what they could expect from the project and what was expected
from participants. Two leaders from womens groups in each village were selected
to assist in collecting appropriate information about the households in the
village and to organize the selected farmers for smooth conduct of the project.
The following step was
the selection of participant women. The main criteria for the selection of women
to receive goats were:
v Interest in participating in the goat production project.
Selected women were expected to voluntarily participate in every aspect of the
project and to receive goats with the understanding that a number of young breeding
female goats equal to the number received would be returned to the project.
size and livestock ownership. Large families owning few livestock had a better
chance of being selected to receive goats. This was done to better achieve
the objective of enhancing household food security of resource poor households.
v Priority was given to women-headed households, provided
the women had time to care for the goats and that goats would not be an additional
burden to them.
Using the aforementioned
criteria, fifty women households from each site or sixteen to seventeen per
village were selected. This resulted in a total of one hundred women participants.
Training materials were
prepared in Amharic (the local language) for ease of understanding by extension
agents and villagers. The importance of goats, and aspects of feeding and forage
development, health care and related management issues of goat raising were
explained in the training material.
Training was also provided
to the womens groups in their villages prior to distribution of goats. Training
was also conducted at the AU goat farm, where women were given an opportunity
to see the campus goat farm housing facilities, management, feeding and feed
base. The women groups also had the chance to see the different animal farms
of the university as well.
3.4 Goat Purchase
Another activity accomplished was
the purchase of local goats to be given to womens groups on credit. This was
done after the woman showed interest and commitment to the project. Before
purchasing the goats, aspects regarding the physical characteristics that needed
to be considered were established. In order to improve the long-term prospects
for the project, only young healthy females were purchased. Females with one
pair of permanent incisors (15 18 months old) or with milk teeth but which
had obviously been weaned for sometime (12 15 months old) were purchased.
Older females are usually sold for a reason, such as infertility or poor mothering
ability and, thus, older animals were avoided. Body conformation was also considered
when purchasing the breeding stock. A good milking goat should have as much
depth as possible in front of the hind legs giving her a triangular look deep
in the hindquarters and narrowing towards the front goats. For males, goats
with one pair of permanent incisors were purchased. The teeth of goats were
checked not only for age but also for wear and any irregularities. The udder,
which is of primary importance, was observed for any signs of abnormalities
such as supernumerary teats (small teats attached to the side of the main teat).
A physical inspection for externally observable abnormalities or wounds was
also made. The eye (infections), nose (discharge), feet (foot rot), swelling
under the jaw (internal parasites), skin (mange mite infestation), coat (is
it dull or shiny and healthy?) and general appearance (dull/restless or full
of energy) were all considered.
The goat purchase was made
following the normal purchasing procedure of AU. Somali breed goats required
for distribution to the participant women under this project were purchased
in two batches from Harshin about 250 km and Hartishek about 190 km east of
the AU campus. In the first purchase, 139 goats, were bought in Harshin. This
purchase took place on June 2 and the goats arrived at the AU campus on June
6, 2000. The second batch of goats, 154 in number, was purchased from Hartishek
on June 24 and the goats arrived at Alemaya on June 29, 2000. A total of 80
male and 213 female goats were purchased.
Upon arrival at AU, the goats were
placed in quarantine for about two weeks. A day after arrival, a fecal sample
was collected from each goat and a fecal egg count conducted to determine the
degree of parasite infestation. Fecal egg counts indicated that of all goats
3, 41, and 56% were shown to have a high, medium and low parasitic loads, respectively.
Of the 80 male goats purchased 4, 56 and 40% were observed to have a high, medium
and low infestation rate whereas for females 3, 36, and 61% had high, medium
and low infestation rates, respectively. Ectoparasites and external abnormalities
were not observed in any animals acquired.
During the quarantine period goats
were vaccinated against anthrax (Anthrax vaccine, National Veterinary Institute,
Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia), drenched for internal parasites (Pamizole, Pharmaceutical
Veterinary Industry, Ozzano Emilia (Bologna) Italy) and dipped for ectoparasites
(Steladone, Novartis Inc., Basle, Switzerland). Nonetheless, out of the purchased
goats six male and one female goat died during the quarantine period before
being distributed, mainly due to pneumonia. The higher parasitic load in males
compared with females might have played a role in the death of more male goats
during this quarantine period.
3.5 Goat Distribution
Goats were distributed
to the participant women with the understanding that an equal number of goats
given shall be returned to the project. The conditions of credit were clearly
explained to the collaborative farmers. Distribution of goats to women farmers
was started on June 22 and was completed on July 17, 2000. One hundred selected
women farmers, fifty from each site, were given two does each with a buck provided
for a group of three to four female farmers. All in all, 200 female goats and
30 male goats were distributed to the farmers.
In addition to helping
the rural poor in improving their livelihood by providing goats, the other objective
of goat distribution was to collect information on the on-farm productivity
of local Somali goats, and the management practices employed in goat raising.
To this end data collection has been started. A preliminary survey was conducted
in August, 2000 to collect information on the common crops grown, management
practices employed in goat raising, and future plans of product use in the project
sites. Half of the women collaborators were randomly interviewed.
4.1 Common Crops Grown
The common types of crops
cultivated in the project areas are sorghum, maize, chat, sweet potato, potato,
beans, wheat and barley in their order of abundance. In the chat dominated site,
chat was the second most common crop following sorghum. These two crops were
followed in abundance by maize, sweet potato, potato and beans. Byproducts of
these crops are major feed sources for goats.
4.2 Grazing or Browsing
Except one respondent that practices
zero grazing due to the lack of enough grazing land and a person to look after
animals during grazing, all other participants allowed their goats to graze/browse
on limited land. Half of the respondents had access to communal grazing, though
small in size, where as others did not. Some farmers, however, were reluctant
to allow goats to use communal grazing areas for fear of diseases that prevail
in the area. About 85% of the respondents use small, privately owned fallow
grazing areas, border farms, hill areas or allow goats to browse on the natural
browse fences. Browse plants are important feed sources for goats in the project
sites and those commonly eaten by goats are shown in Table 2. Goats on average
spend 7 hours grazing or browsing with the range of survey responses being from
5 to 10 hours grazing time. Owners in some villages tended to have their goats
return from grazing early in the day in fear of predators, especially hyena.
Table 2. Grown browse plants around project sites that are commonly eaten by
(based on farmer responses)
Gerbi or Girar
Sariiti or Endesariiti
Goats were given feed in
the house upon returning from grazing or browsing. Various types of feeds were
given but the most common were thinnings of maize and sorghum plants, byproducts
of chat called geraba, weeds collected from the farm, sweet potato vines, harvested
grass, kitchen byproducts and leftover food, and grain byproducts produced when
preparing grains for flour production. Some women also purchased wheat bran
and peanut cake for supplementation. Almost all owners provided goats with table
salt either mixed with water or mixed with leftover food.
4.4 Watering and Water Sources
Goats were offered water
at home from the water used for human consumption. The most common source of
water was hand pumped or shallow well water. Spring water was also used in few
villages. Half of the respondents watered their goats once per day at midday
whereas the other half watered goats twice per day at midday and in the evening.
Water was provided to goats ad libitum. Owners seemed worried that their goats
were not drinking enough water and most of them mixed water with salt to increase
the water intake. One respondent said that her goats did not drink water for
more than a month. This may have been due to the fact that the goats were getting
enough water from consumed feed as it was the wet season.
Goats mainly share the
same house with their owners. Few owners have separate housing for their animals.
Generally, goats are housed together with other animals present.
Since several women were given
a male goat for group use, the women needed to be able to detect estrus. Respondents
indicated they could detect estrus and were able to tell signs of estrus. Bleating,
wagging the tail, discharge of mucus from the vagina, riding and following other
goats, and a decrease in appetite were indicated by respondents as signs of
estrus. A problem some women mentioned in connection with this is the failure
of male goats provided to respond when females came into heat.
Tending goats was mainly
the job of children. In the absence of a capable child to look after the goat
or when children were in school, the housewife took care of the goats. Two-thirds
of the respondents said that goats were tended with child labor, while one-third
indicated that women looked after the goats. The householder was the least involved
in the management of goats.
4.8 Product use
Respondents were asked
to prioritize the importance of goat products, such as meat, milk, skin and
manure. Milk was deemed the most important followed by meat, manure and skin.
Of all the respondents, 30% ranked goat meat over milk in importance whereas
the rest selected milk as the most important goat product. Goat manure was a
highly valued product, even ranking above than the skin. Manure was valued
as a fertilizer, with the majority used on the cash crop, chat. In addition,
respondents indicated that inclusion of goat manure around the chat farmstead
prevented wild animals, specifically the grey duiker or midaqoa in Amharic (Syivicapra
grimmia), from eating the chat. The smell of goat manure is not liked by
such animals and acts as a deterrent. The skin of the goat was processed and
mainly used as a praying mat, locally called a salat, which is common among
religious Muslims. Goat skin is preferred for salats to the skins of sheep and
cattle as sheep skin is very hairy and cattle skin is not too flexible.
All respondents indicated that
they will milk goats upon kidding. Milk will be used for home consumption, either
for children or to prepare a common traditional drink called hoja (boiled coffee
pulp mixed with milk). More than 85% of respondents indicated that milk will
be given in priority to children followed with use for hoja, while the rest
(15%) gave priority for the making of hoja. Women gave priority for hoja out
of the belief that if hoja is consumed by the mother, there will be enough breast
milk for the child. Milk will not be sold as respondents think there will not
be excess production.
Except for three respondents who
preferred cows, all others surveyed preferred goats to other farm animals. The
reasoning by the three respondents who preferred cows was that cows will give
more milk than goats. Respondents provided various reasons for preferring goat
to other farm animals. These included: the diverse feeding habit of goats; small
size which makes them easy to manage; small feed requirements; fast reproduction
rate which results in immediate cash income and milk production; and the belief
that meat and milk from goats, as compared with products from other animals,
is felt to have a curative or medicinal value and as a result goats are slaughtered
and fed when a child gets sick. Most respondents felt that goats were not difficult
to raise but others indicated that goats were prone to flee and run to the chat
fields and other farms to eat crops.
Goat owners did not report major
expenditures in the raising of goats. Very few had purchased medicine. The main
expense for goats indicated by most respondents was salt, which is not that
expensive. Some farmers, especially those having large ruminants, bought supplemental
feeds such as wheat bran and peanut cake and their goats were also provided
with a share.
Goats generally share the same
house with their owners, who considered this as a major constraint in raising
animals. Most respondents realized the potential consequences of living with
animals in the same house but said they needed the animals there to maintain
a close watch on them. Most mentioned the lack of finances as a constraint to
construct separate animal housing. However, lack of awareness of potential
problems is also a reason why animals are not housed separately. In this regard,
efforts need to be made to educate farmers on the importance of constructing
separate animal houses and, if possible, to construct a model animal house in
the farmers area to change their attitude about housing animals with them.
Since this survey was conducted
in the wet season, a shortage of green feed was not a major concern to goat
owners. However, during the dry season grazing land may become scarce and feed
shortages may become a production constraint. Most respondents did not support
this view and except for very few, feed shortage was not considered as a constraint.
The lack of efficient veterinary
service for animals was another constraint observed. When animals became sick
farmers tended to buy tablets and treated animals themselves. The lack of timely
treatment of sick animals may have been one a factor in the death of seven female
goats out of those distributed to the womens groups.
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FARM-Africa, 1996. Goat Types of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Physical description
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Assessment of Urban-Rural Linkages in Predominantly
Pastoral Economies. A paper prepared for the Fourth Annual Conference on the
Ethiopian Economy, Organized by the Department of Economics and Ethiopian economic
Assoociation, Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia, 26-29 November, 1994.
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