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Goats: Imperatives for Developing the Champions of the Poor and the Landless

Devendra C*
Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist, 130A Jalan Awan Jawa, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
*Corresponding Author : Dr. Devendra C, PhD, DSc
Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist
130A Jalan Awan Jawa
58200 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia
Tel: 603-7987-9917
E-mail: [email protected]
Received August 22, 2014; Accepted November 21, 2014; Published November 23, 2014
Citation: Devendra C (2015) Goats: Imperatives for Developing the Champions of the Poor and the Landless. Agrotechnol 4:e113. doi:10.4172/2168-9881.1000e113
Copyright: © 2015 Devendra C. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Animal-agriculture production is pivotal for food security, economic growth and rural prosperity. In Asian agriculture, the goat is revered as the first animal to be domesticated, and has an important economic and ecological niche. It is very widely distributed, but the preferred environment is the semi-arid to arid AEZs [1] such as West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region [2], within-country in Rajasthan in India, Baluchistan in Pakistan, Harare in Zimbabwe, Chihuahua and San Louis Portosi in Mexico Its value increases in relation to its contributions, capacity to adapt to different rained lessfavored areas (LFAs), cope with the effects of climate change, and respond to market opportunities and dietary changes [3].
Inherent Attributes of Goat
Goats have many unique inherent attributes and features as follows:-
• Small size is significant, for reasons of socio-economic, managerial, biology, food security, survival, and development (Figure 1).
• Empowerment of women is central to women’s control and use of productive assets,
Bargaining power, increased participation in social and credit programmes and networking
• The capacity to adapt explains the global distribution of 1128 million goats in 2013 across all AEZs, from the deserts to the humid environments and the interactions. Goats account for about 36% of the total world population of grazing animals they can be used as an entry point for the development of rainfed LFAs
• About 41.5% of the goat population is found in the semi-arid/arid (AEZs).The. High concentrations of goats in the LFAs coincide with extreme poverty, the poorest of the poor who live a life of continuing syndrome of poverty-adaptation-fragile lives-little hope- low life expectancy complex
• Malaysia and Indonesia together have the largest land area of about 8.4 million ha under oil palm. The native undergrowth has a 72-93 % herbage mixture which is palatable. Goats have an inherent ability to use fibrous feeds more efficiently [4].
• Carbon is sequestered in agroforestry or silvopastoral systems. Goat manure provides precious nutrients and microorganisms to the soils especially in the LFAs.
• The most significant contribution by goats is to the livelihoods of millions of small farmers and the landless to develop agriculture and livestock assets. In India, the socio- economic, nutritional security and ownership and importance of goats was championed by the late Mahatma Gandhi, for the under-privileged and the rural poor, about the value of goat’s milk for good health.
Current Trends in R and D
An objective critique of research undertaken and their implications hitherto reflect some deep concerns inter alia as follows :-
• Most developing countries do not accord adequate policy and priority funding to recognise and maximize potential productivity
• Research thrusts continue to emphasise disciplines devoid of sustainability issues
• Fundamental and applied efforts are the norm but more adaptive, interdisciplinary on-farm R and D, including the effects of climate change are scarce
• The application of yield-inducing technologies and methodologies utilization for on -farm in response to needs-based R and D is unclear and weak, and
• Projects on pro-poor initiatives that enhance livelihoods of small farmers and the landless are inadequate.
Transforming Agriculture
Technologically driven transformation is important to increase the productivity and contribution from goats. These include the following:-
Changing the mind set
Ensure detailed identification of the major constraints and priorities for resolution
Determine yield-inducing technologies using systems perspectives and farm needs
Community-based participation is essential to demonstrate significant impacts, and
Community knowledge and innovation enable sustainable management of natural resources [5].
Importance of interdisciplinary research
A policy framework is very important and includes the following inter alia:-policy through advocacy, on gender, R and D investment, and through direct government action.
Improved value chains
Improved and efficient value chains are essential to support the marketing of clean goat meat. Marketing and transaction costs are major constraints for small farmers and need to be reduced. A significant development pathway for small farmers and the landless are intensification of production systems, specialization, commercialization and more aggressive participation in market competitiveness (Table 1).
With improved production systems and yield inducing technologies, challenging opportunities exist for tapping into large scale goat meat markets. The first priority of course is to maximize domestic production to meet national needs in intensive and specialized systems. This will also promote trade within- and between regions, reflected very broadly below, notwithstanding addressing issues of logistics and trans-boundary diseases. These challenges and opportunities can pave the way for a vibrant export trade
R and D Priorities and a Vision for the Future
Improved agriculture and potential increased productivity will need a number of key R and D investigations inter alia :-
• Wider use of indigenous breeds, especially the “improver breeds” and indigenous knowledge. Example of improver breeds: Barbari and Malabar (India) and Bach Thou (Vietnam)
• Potential development of the rainfed areas or LFAs needs urgent attention
• More information is necessary on various aspects of the value chains e.g. methods of transportation, types of markets (assembling, distribution markets and weekly markets), characteristics of marketing systems; marketing channels and outlets etc.
• Small animals provide an important means to intensify gender equality and women’s empowerment through education and training, participation in project formulation and contribution, improved understanding of the dynamics of the ownership and decision making, strengthen local women’s organisations, and gender equality in livestock services and activities [6].
• Information dissemination and inter-personal communications need to be accelerated, as also aggressive south-south linkages. Strategic partnerships with Asia can greatly enrich and complement R and D in Africa and Latin America [7].
Conclusions and the Unfinished Dilemma
A dominating feature about the dominance of goats in the developing world is that there is natural population increase, and they have ensured man`s survival in most poverty-stricken areas. The justification for priority development in h future is associated with the following:
• Improved agricultural technologies in the past came from the developed countries, notably the USA, Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, India and Israel. Developing countries will therefore have to be more self-reliant to pursue R and D using locally available inexpensive inputs.
• Community-based R and D that builds on indigenous resources and the meagre assets of the poor are more likely to be adopted than from elsewhere.
• Donor communities have provided negligible funds for R and D on goats. Many of the projects have tended to be top down, without regard to community-based partnerships.
• However, dairy production in goats has greatly benefitted from the developed countries, notably the USA, France and Germany. R and D in dairy science largely refers to dairy goat breeds, but developing countries also have to deal with dual- and triple purpose breed
• Interdisciplinary approaches that address demographics, socioeconomics, resource allocation, value chains, trade and marketing, and self-reliance will be very useful.
These awesome details emphasize how important it is to seek the highest efficiency in the use of the natural resources to the extent possible. Maximizing the contribution from goats is just one example of how they can be used as an entry point for the development of the LFAs. The real question is whether systems orientation and effective development policy can directly improve sustainable food production and environmental protection for small farmers and the landless who own goats, and whose enduring hope is of secure and sustained food supplies from - animal agriculture .The goal of technologically driven transformation is our collective responsibility and in the long term, hopefully the vision for the future is sustained food supplies from - animal agriculture, decreased poverty, significantly improved livelihoods and self-reliance in the immediate future.
Agriculture is under pressure to change from traditional structures to globalization, and in these circumstances vision must lead the way. For the poor and the marginalized, the enduring dream for the future is a world where there is a peaceful agricultural countryside, where natural resources are environmentally sustainable, where there is no poverty and starvation, innovation and self-reliance are vital, and the agricultural landscape is in harmony with nature. These goals are achievable .but innovation and vision must lead the way in the future.
Let me end by echoing an adaptation from an excellent Ethiopian proverb as follows:-
“Rainfed land rich in goats is never poor and land poor in goats is never rich”

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