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The Livelihood and Poor Men’s Cow in Mid-western Region of Nepal

Goat is one of the most dominant ruminants in Nepal. Goat keeping is an integrated approach for majority of farmers and handy source of money in need and is being effective for poverty reduction and food security improvement. Goat meat is second largest consumed meat and contributes about one fifths of the total meat produced in the country.

The goat is popularly known as the poor men’s cow because children and old folks who cannot afford cow’s milk prefer drinking goat milk and because it gives you the same benefit as the cow, (i.e, milk, meat) and it's cheaper than the cow so that poor people can afford having them. Aside from being cheap, goat’s milk is more digestible compared to cow’s milk. However, goat raising is not common for milk in Nepal, it is mainly for meat. Goat is undertaken commonly by small farmers or backyard raisers.  Farmers raise an average of one or two heads of goat. Only a handful of commercial-scale goat farms can be found in the country.

Goat stands as the major livestock in the project districts with about 1.1 million goats and more than 9 thousand tons annual meat production. There seems ample opportunity for commercialization of this sector in the project areas among the small and mid-scale producers with increasing meat demand and development of market centres with opening of roads.

The estimated cost of production based on group production scheme is calculated as NRs.140 /kg, however, it varies as location, size of rearing and local market price of the ingredients and variables. The estimated cost of goat rearing varies from NRs. 114 in Chhinchu-Jajarkot to NRs. 233 in Surkhet-Jumla corridor. Similarly, the profit margin also varies from location to location and between actors to actors which was was recorded NRs. 10 for trader in Dailekh whereas NRs. 125 for butcher in Salyan.                                 

Source: Baseline study report-HVAP2011

Most goats produced by smallholders in Nepal are marketed by private entrepreneurs/traders who operate as a marketing chain, collect, hold and distribute or sell the goats to terminal markets. Although the marketing chain is well known, the economic and institutional barriers to a larger scale of goat production and appropriate marketing (transportation costs, quality standards, and inadequate and uncoordinated goat meat market information systems) limit its development. The potential exists for an improved and well-functioning market through value chain and economic study if a database covering production marketing and trading situation is established and will prove useful in related planning and policy formulation.

In most cases, it is the men who are involved in the trading business. In the case of Chhinchu-Jajarkot road corridor, male domination was exclusive, whereas less than 10% respondents were female only. Likewise, Chhetris were the dominating caste/ethnic group followed by Brahmin, Thakuri and Magar and dalit in goat rearing. The mean size of goat holding was highest in Surkhet-Jumla road corridor (~25 regardless of category and sex), followed by Chhinchu-Jajarkot.

Most of goats produced are largely consumed domestically and only 20% is traded in market center, which provides them with certain income. The mean annual income from goat per household was as high as NRs 50,000 (Chhinchu-Jajarkot). Nevertheless, the trend of goat production has increased in the last five years. Grazing based rearing is a common practice. In spite of common problems in goat rearing and management, farmers in the entire study road corridor have been positive in goat keeping and are hopeful to have increased level of production.

The major constraints includes improper technology for large and commercial scale of production; low or no provision of appropriate feeding management especially in mountain districts; insufficient technology on shed management (space, air flow, and slot management); lack of goat resource centre to supply elite doe and buck; poor facility of loan disbursement from government as well as  low priority of banking sector to collator lands and property in the rural areas; poor quality collection centres with no reconditioning facility; handling and transportation loss; transportation means undefined; less number of extension workers and coverage, and limited market information.

The suggested interventions include plantation of fodder trees and promote hay and silage making practices to fulfil the feed requirement, basic supports as per category of rearing; support scientific shed management and slot improvement, promotion of viable transportation means, establishing collection centres with reconditioning scheme/facilities; training on improved rearing practices to facilitate larger scale of production, and introduction of visit programme to the model farm and specific pocket area observation. Similarly, the long-term interventions include community based goat resource centres establishment; demonstrations on large scale goat rearing system and introduction of goat insurance/animal-wealth protection scheme to safeguard farmers' investment and to attract large scale entrepreneurs into this sector.


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