KZN government starts goat-farming project

2010-05-14 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL is the biggest consumer of goats in the country, yet commercial farming of the animals is not a common practice here.

Dr Themba Sikhakhane, the state veterinarian for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agricultu­re and Rural Development, said that most of the goats the people of the province consume are imported from other parts of the country, as well as from places as far away as Namibia.

“I challenge any­one to find me a commercial farmer, not a person who imports and sells goats, but rather a person who actually breeds them [boer goats] on a commercial scale,” said Sikhakhane.

In an attempt to make commercial goat farming a reality, the department initiated a goat- farmin­g project in Somshoek, Ladysmith, at the end of March.

It provided the community with 188 goats to kick off the commercial farming project.

Sikhakhane said that the project is running smoothly.

“With support and monitoring by the Ladysmith state veterinarian’s office the projects are still up and running, and the interest from the recipients has not diminished yet,” Sikhakhane said.

The local people involved “are highly appreciative of what the government is trying to do, and there are other members of the community wanting to participate in these projects,” said Sikhakhane.

He said that the department hopes to implement similar projects around the province, and “in the future when we begin to cross the indigenous goats with the boer goats, local producers will be able to compete with the imported goats”, he said.

The “almost nonexistent” commercial goat-farming sector in the province is a challenge to the department, but one it is approaching positively.

Sikhakhane said: “We are hoping that these communal projects, especially in the areas where there is a thornbush-type veld, will jump-start commercial goat farming, thus providing sustainable income for the poor communities.”

He also explained that “it should be kept in mind that traditional goat farming for native people has been a hobby and so they have been very reluctant to sell their stock”.

But he is certain that these projects will positively effect the communities once they are implemented.

“These projects have already managed to galvanise interested members of the communities into forming co-operatives that, if well supported by the department, will continue to harness sustainable income for these poor communities that are headed by unemployed people,” said Sikhakhane.

The department has recently spread the opportunity to make a living to other areas.

The grazing, fencing and construction of goat sheds in Izingolweni at the Sithengwa Ngegazi Co-op and Umzumbe Siyakholwa co-op is complete and during this financial year, the department will provide breeding stock for the projects.

Although the initiatives have and will continue to get positive results, Sikhakhane said that they have run into a few problems.

“The greatest challenge for these projects has been mortalities. We had to procure stock from other areas and move them to new areas but now what we are trying to do for the projects at Ugu District is to source stock locally so that we can get animals that are familiar with the environment,” Sikhakhane explained.

The department is encouraging any individuals who have goat stock to contact state veterinarians who will then do their best to assist through primary animal health care, advice and project extension.

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