Goat rearing has often been referred to as ‘poor man’s farming’ and until recently, it has not been practiced on a commercial scale within our rural communities. Interestingly, it requires a very low investment but provides decent profitability so it is starting to gain popularity as a commercial industry amongst local farmers. Due to the fact that goats are multi-functional animals, producing a wide variety of nutritious products such as milk, meat, goat cheese and butter, goat rearing contributes greatly to both nutrition and the economy in Zimbabwe and Zambia. These products are also highly sought after globally due to their dietary benefits.
The remote rural community areas in which Children in the Wilderness (CITW) operate in Zimbabwe are also feeder communities for the Schools CITW works with. Most of the children come from underprivileged backgrounds where families are largely subsistence farmers, simply struggling to get by each month in these drought ridden areas. Providing sufficient funds to ensure their children are educated is often a tremendous problem fraught with the many challenges that these remote areas present and often families struggle to afford to send their children to school.
These areas are however characterized by mixed woodland vegetation consisting of an abundance of Camel Thorn (Acacia Erioloba) and the Sickle bush (Dychrostachys sineria) trees, and this is a food source that is greatly favoured by goats, making it an ideal area for goat rearing. Seeing an opportunity for these communities to expand their own income generating possibilities, CITW Zambezi Region approached Grand Circle Foundation (GCF) in the USA for assistance to start an “Initiative Project” for the Ziga Community in Tsholotsho (Zimbabwe). Thanks to their generous donations, in June 2016, CITW and GCF were able to provide the local women of Ziga Community with South African Kalahari Red male breeding goats, along with the materials to build goat pens and shelters, and the necessary medications and dips for the wellbeing of the goat herds.
As an ‘initiative’ project, a group of thirty ladies from the community were encouraged to form a committee to oversee the project. The members were then was asked to contribute one female goat into this venture, as well as their time and efforts tending to the daily upkeep of the goat herd. A breed known as the ‘South African Kalahari Red’ male goat buck was specifically chosen because it is highly recommended for numerous reasons: they are hardy animals and therefore well suited to the harsh conditions in these areas, their superior breed is known to enhance the tenderness of the meat when bred with common goats and they are less susceptible to disease and parasites, therefore needing fewer vaccinations than other breeds. Cross breeding with the common goat will therefore generally improve the overall quality of meat and milk yields.
It is hoped that in the future, the Ladies Goat Rearing Committees will share the male goats with other local goat breeding communities so as to help reduce inbreeding and further improve goat by-products, whilst simultaneously improving the project as a sustainable business, and ultimately strengthening the local communities. There is a ready market in Zimbabwe and local abattoirs have advised that demand far outweighs supply. An abattoir in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) has agreed to visit the Tsholotsho area where the project has been set up to purchase goats directly.
The extra income these households will be able to bring in will not only help pay their children’s much needed school fees, but once the project is sustainable and producing reasonable profits, it will also create a revolving credit fund which can be used to starting new and innovative F.S.t. T (from seed to Table) micro sustainable projects. There is a tight network of independent and highly capable women in these communities; something often taken for granted and they are all very excited to get the project off the ground.