-Aju Nyachhyon & Karan Kunwar
Goat rearing has traditionally been a common practice among small-scale farmers in rural Nepal. It is common for rural households to rear two to three goats. However, despite such large base for production of goat in Nepal, the demand outweighs national production.
One reason for this is because local breeds of goats have a low growth rate. This may be because of poor selection of the buck/doe that is used for breeding, as well as because of high incidences of in-breeding. To add to this, farmers still use traditional goat rearing practices and rely on grass, comprising of mainly native grasses with inadequate nutritive value. This means poor nutrition for the goats. The feed then becomes inadequate for the goat, contributing to their low growth rate.
There are only a handful of large businesses involved in goat farming in Nepal. And these large businesses do not have an incentive to cater to the smallholder farmers who rear goats for subsistence farming. However, continuous efforts from the Government and many development agencies has given impetus for entrepreneurs to start small-scale goat farms in villages.
As the goat sector gradually commercializes, Sahaj saw an opportunity to engage with these entrepreneurs. Sahaj therefore sought to play a facilitative role to support these entrepreneurs to set up their businesses as breeding farms and to become input suppliers to small-scale goat farmers. The aim was to bridge the gap between the private sector and the small-scale farmers so that the latter can have better access to quality breeds of goats and inputs for their goats.
As a pilot to test this model, Sahaj partnered with two goat farms -- Adhunik Boer Bakhra Farm and Asmita Bakhra Farm -- in Bheriganga Nagarpalika, Surkhet district. The initial idea of the partnership was to support these farms to develop a resource center with boer goats and improved fodder/forage. The idea was to set up the resource center so that other goat farmers could access better breeding services by breeding their does with the boer buck, purchase quality fodder and forage planting materials for goats, as well as access other services and knowledge regarding goat rearing.
This initiative was guided by the objective to identify the causes for the low growth rate of the goats. Creating a resource farm that could produce and sell improved breed goat kids, provide breeding services with a better quality of goat, as well as provide additional services like improved fodder and forage, and information on goat farm management would help the actors in the goat sector drive the sector forward in an independent and sustainable manner.
The activities of the partnership started in November 2017, with farm upgradation based on the technical expert’s advice. Sahaj supported a technical expert who assessed both partners’ farm and recommended upgradation of their goat shed, management of feed and rearing practice.
The intervention is working to change the behavior of the farmers towards selection of improved breed and fodder and forage. This means better breed and feed, which translates to goats with high meat yield. This ultimately helps farmers secure increased income from goat rearing.
Sahaj, also known as the Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme (NAMDP), is a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland. It is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is designed as a 12-year programme with three consecutive phases. The first phase of the programme started from March 2016 and will continue until December 2019. Sahaj is jointly implemented by Swisscontact as the lead agency, and the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED).
Sahaj is working in the goat sector to improve the ensure that small scale goat farmers, including women and disadvantaged groups, have improved market access to goat breeding facilities, quality veterinary services and products, knowledge and extension services, and to markets for the goats and therefore increase their income.