Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Lupane Goat Improvement Centre (GIC) has opened its doors to goat farmers with more than 1 600 animals being dipped on the day as the centre seeks a buy-in even from the local villagers.
The GIC is part one of the many projects being rolled out throughout the country under one of the six projects that are supported by the 40 million Euros funding from the European Union (EU) under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP).
According to a recent update from the ZAGP, GIC is a facility where farmers get assistance in terms of their livestock production, health and trainings.
“GIC is a facility where farmers get primary business support services which include plunge dipping, animal health products, aggregation facilities, breed improvement services, animal nutrition (fodder seeds and crops) as well as hands-on training on commercial goat farming,” said ZAGP.
The Lupane GIC held its first dipping session with 1 643 goats being dipped on the day as the district was prone to tick-borne diseases.
A member of the Lupane District Goat Producers Business Association, Mr Ochard Ncube said the centre will go a long way in assisting most goat farmers in the area improve their goat production and reduce goat mortality.
Mr Ncube added:
“In addition to dipping their goats, farmers were able to procure drugs and vaccines locally when in the past they had to travel to Lupane Town or Bulawayo which resulted in many of them foregoing vaccination and treating their goats.”
Lupane District Goat Producers Business Association treasurer, Mr Thulani Shoko said they are working closely with the Department of Veterinary Services to maintain the good health of their animals.
“As an association, we are working closely with the Department of Veterinary Services to ensure that we maintain good health for our animals through provision of drugs and vaccines at competitive prices.
“Farmers do not need to travel long distances to access drugs and vaccines anymore,” said Mr Shoko.
With the financial support of the European Union, the project supplied the centre with breeding bucks of the boar type for breed improvement. ZASP said farmers wishing to have their does serviced will pay a fee which will be channelled back into maintaining the centre.
To address the challenges caused by the high cost of goat feed, the centre also has a half of a hectare of fodder crops such as Lablab, Velvet bean and Sunhemp under solar powered drip irrigation.
The association noted that fodder is sold for an equivalent of US$1 per kilogramme and fodder seed for US$1 per 500g.
ZAGP also noted that there are more goat improvement centres in 11 other districts namely Nkayi, Binga, Matobo, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Mudzi, Rushinga, Mbire, Chikomba, Buhera and Chipinge.
Covering Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, the €40 million initiative (ZAGP) seeks to boost the beef, dairy, pig, goat and poultry production. The programme will also address the weaknesses and gaps in livestock value chains that have prevented the sector from increasing productivity, production, and incomes, to their potential.
Focus will be on building the capacity of farmers, service institutions, and private sector through increased investment, institutional reforms and policy alignment.
ZAGP also works with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement to coordinate market-oriented education and extension services across the five value chains.