Goat production in the smallholder section in the Matobo district in semi arid areas of Zimbabwe
Keywords:Goat Production, Smallholder, Matobo, Zimbabwe
Goats contribute significantly to the subsistence, economic and social livelihood of the majority of the smallholder resource poor rural population in Zimbabwe. However, no comprehensive studies on the impact of goat production on the socio-economic livelihoods have been carried out in semi arid areas of Zimbabwe, hence very little information has been documented on smallholder goat production system and its productivity. This study aims at assessing the importance of goat production on smallholder farmers’ social and economic livelihood, and to identify constraints to increased productivity. Although goats do not contribute to the official cash economy, they contribute to the food and cash needs of the rural households populations. This is evident from the large number of goats and their popularity in rural semi arid areas, where cropping is limited. A survey was carried out by a questionnaire using a total of 100 randomly selected smallholder farmers households in Matobo district of Zimbabwe. The major reason for keeping goats by smallholder farmers was providing food for the families, and other reasons given were that income earned from goats went towards paying school fees, medication, acquisition of household assets, and cultural purposes. Inadequate livestock health support services from goverment and lack of organised marketing facilities were identified as some of the major constraints. The unavailability of formal goat market system affected the viability of goats production, as a result of low returns. The results showed that households acquired goats mostly through purchases and least acquisition was from inheritance. The study concluded that from the proportion of goat earnings used for household food consumption showed that goats are important to the poor resource farmers and thus can be a suitable target for development assistance. Hence, goat rearing can be a sustainable livelihood strategy in improving the quality of life of the small holder farmers in Matobo district. It is also hoped that this study will contribute to the improvement and the understanding of the socio-economic impact of goat production on smallholder farmers in Matobo district of Zimbabwe, and to a greater extent in the arid and semi-arid areas.
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