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Goat production in Botswana: Factors affecting production and marketing among small-scale farmers

M. Mrema and S. Rannobe

Botswana College of Agriculture,
P. Bag 0027, Gaborone, Botswana

Abstract
Introduction
The role of the Government of Botswana (GOB)
The national production and marketing situation
Farmers' situation
Conclusion and recommendations
References

Abstract

Through government programmes, the goat population among small-scale farmers increased from 0.6 million in 1973 to 2.12 million goats by 1990. Yet goat sales and consumption levels are very low. Production and marketing are plagued by a number of constraints, including lack of funds for investments in proper facilities, long distances to markets and risks.

Introduction

Livestock production in Botswana is a very important socio-economic activity. The cattle industry is the principal sector with a major contribution to beef export to the EEC market. However cattle ownership is highly skewed with 10% of the population owning 60% of the national herd in 1990 and 40% of the population not owning any cattle (MFDP 1991). The semi-arid climate of the region combined with its low population density provide a great opportunity for livestock production. Also lack of alternative investment opportunities in rural areas has promoted investment in livestock (Chernichovsky et al 1985; MFDP 1991). For smallholder (traditional) farmers more investments are made in the small stock sector. Over 80% of the small stock, 70% of which are goats, are in the hands of traditional farmers (MoA 1991). Women, who are among the poorest, own more goats than their male counterparts who have more resources and can afford to own cattle. Ownership of goats by the poorer sector of farmers is encouraged by the government through a number of projects/policies and programmes discussed later in this paper.

Since all the traditional farmers live in the communal lands (70% of the total area) most of the goats are found in these areas. Here extensive grazing is practised and very little controlled grazing is done. About 5.0 million animals (2.6 million cattle, 2.2 million small stock and 0.2 million donkeys) were found in these areas in 1990.

The role of the Government of Botswana (GOB)

Some of the objectives set by the GoB in the small stock subsector are:

· To improve rural nutritional and income status through increased productivity of milk and meat, and sales through improved management and genetic potential.

· Assist the marketing of small stock through improving handling and marketing facilities.

· Use projects like AI, ram subsidy (Boer goat was introduced to improve the indigenous goats),Financial Assistance Policy (a grant of up to P 25,000 to start a goat or sheep project is given to a farmer, and women are given priority) and pricing policy as an incentive to promote the smallstock sub-sector.

· Through the implementation of service to livestock owners in communal areas programme (SLOCA), provide technical assistance to Botswana Cooperative Union (BCU) responsible for livestock management and marketing. An increase in prices of small stock through BCU, increased animals sent to the official market, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) from 334 goats in 1982 to 4127 goats in 1983 and to 41,997 in 1989 (MFDP 1991).

· Build dams and assist syndicates in costs of drilling boreholes with a minimum of P 20,000. This is necessary because there is very little surface water.

· Establishment of 10 trek routes covering a total of 2540 km (MFDP 1991) to assist those farmers who trek their animals to BMC or municipal abattoirs. Each of these routes has watering and kraaling facilities and a kilometre yard to hold sick and weak animals.

· Provide disease control measures like free vaccination from common diseases, cordon fences in production areas and the establishment of six main Livestock Advisory Centres (LACs) and 25 subsidiaries.

The national production and marketing situation

In 1985 over 99% (1.1 million goats) of the goats were in the hands of traditional farmers on 53,000 farms. By 1990 the number of farms owning goats had increased to 68,900 with 2.1 million goats. Most farms own between 1 and 30 goats. Statistics show, however, that goats do better (because they are browsers) during dry seasons and droughts than during wet seasons, e.g. in 1968 there were 1.9 million goats, but this number was reduced to 0.6 million during the wet year of 1973. During the 1982-87 drought years, the goat numbers increased dramatically. Causes of these losses during wet seasons were investigated in surveys and results are discussed later in this paper.

The composition of the national flock over three periods is shown in Table 1. Although the number of female adult goats has been increasing slowly, it has remained in the region of 50% of the total flock. However, the proportion of female kids born is declining.

Table 1. Goat composition and performance.



Age

Year ('000 goats)

1985

1988

1990

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

>1 year

163.2

575.8

235.1

853.2

307.8

1132.8

% of total

14.7

51.9

14.3

52.1

15.2

55.8

<1 year

168

201.3

259.2

291.6

263.2

326.4

% of total

15.5

18.2

15.8

17.8

13.0

16.1

Source: MoA (1985,1988,1990).

National figures also show low and stagnated productivity and marketing parameters (Table 2). While the birth rate increased during the wet years of 1988/89 the death rate increased too. Sales of goats increased only slightly over the three periods investigated. The increase is attributed to the implementation of a pricing policy during the period, where price/100 kg CDM was raised to approach that of cattle (Table 3). Although the aim was to increase offtake rates of these farmers, the commercial farmers' offtake rate of between 12-15% has never been attained by traditional farmers.

Also, while the population of Botswana increased tremendously from 0.9 million in 1981 to 1.3 million in 1990, with 50.6% of them being children under 15 years of age, home consumption of goat meat increased only slightly (Table 2). This has not improved protein intake as planned.

The increased attention given to goat production was meant to minimise or terminate the huge sheep products imports from South Africa (SA) and increase exports of goat live animals and meat. However, due to low offtake rates, Botswana still imported over P 12 million worth of sheep meats in 1991 (CSO 1992) while goat exports to SA in 1985 and 1986 were only worth P 10,228.68 and P 19,287.63, respectively. Now this SA market for goats has collapsed. This will limit the sale of Botswana goats especially since the domestic market is very small. This is reflected in the reduced total number of animals slaughtered in both the BMC and municipal abattoirs (Table 4).

Table 2. Production and marketing of the national flock.


Variables

Year

1985

1988

1990

Production parameters (%)


Birth rate

40.6

45.8

40.2


Mortality rate

19.7

21.0

19.7

Marketing indicators (%)


Offtake rate

3.1

4.4

5.6


Home consumption

5.2

6.9

7.5


Purchases

2.5

1.7

2.1

Source: MoA (1985,1988,1990).

Table 3. Comparison of average price for cattle and goats 1986-93 on cold-dressed mass (CDM) basis.



Year

Price in Pula1

Cattle

Goats

Exchange rate2

100 kg

Average/animal

100 kg

Average/animal

Pula against US$

1986

153.30

290

na

40.33

0.544

1987

166.64

328

na

49.98

0.639

1988

218.46

455

219.28

51.87

0.517

1989

276.65

599

253.14

58.11

0.534

1990

296.38

632

270.45

57.72

0.534

1991

302.92

611

252.32

48.08

0.482

1992

291.44

520

259.44

54.10

0.443

1993*

334.66

644

313.20

59.87

0.408

na = not applicable;
* up to June.
Sources: 1. CSO (1993); 2. Bank of Botswana (1993).

Table 4. Slaughter of goats between BMC1 and municipal abattoirs (MA).

Year

BMC

MA

% MA slaughter of total

1987

30728

2916

8.7

1988

25717

2076

7.5

1989

31888

5087

13.8

1990

20670

5603

21.3

1991

13915

5993

30.1

1992

6396

874

51.8

19932

2047

na

na

1 BMC = Botswana Meat Commission.
2 Up to June.
Source: CSO (1993).

Farmers' situation

Farmers' objectives

Farmers' objectives sometimes conflict with those of the government, and since it is the farmers who make production and marketing decisions, problems are experienced in implementation of government projects/policies and programmes. Examples of these conflicts are:

1. The culture of keeping animals as wealth hinder the objective of increasing offtake rates. This renders the price policy ineffective as far as small farmers are concerned. From the surveys done in the Gaborone region (1993/94) only 2% of the farmers sold any goats. These were sold only when need for cash arose.

2. Competition for inputs with a number of other enterprises (crop production and off-farm activities) deprive goat production of the necessary resources needed to improve productivity (e.g. labour, finance, feed etc).

Production constraints

Major production constraints identified by the study were:

· Poor housing. All animals (on average 40 cattle, 15 goats and 13 donkeys) are housed together at all times of the year in open kraals made of thorny branches. These kraals are never cleaned and most last for over 4 years. This results in outbreak of diseases during wet seasons resulting in an average loss of 11 kids/farmer per annum.

· High mortality of the exotic Boer goats introduced through the ram subsidy programme due to poor management and inability to fulfil the conditions required for such breeds because of the high costs involved.

· The large numbers of animals kept in these villages lead to overstocking and severe overgrazing especially in winter where natural pasture is reduced to zero. This results not only in inadequate feed but also in poorer quality pastures each year. Since supplementary feeding is hardly done due to the costs involved (it costs P 8.70/50 kg bag of sorghum bran, P 6.35/35 kg bag of salt and P 23.50/50 kg bag of stock feed), starvation and insufficient feeding results in high losses.

· The high costs of veterinary services, long distances to LACs, lack of transport and short supply of some drugs requiring farmers to go to SA for them, prohibit constant and continuous use of these services.

· Few veterinary assistants (VAs). Although the NDP 7 (1991-97) requires that there be a VA to farmer ratio of 1:240 the study found the ratio in this area to be 1:429, with an average distance of 8 km between farmers; most VAs do not have any transportation means.

· Insufficient family labour and unreliable hired labour to cover all the activities performed at the same time on the farms (crop production, livestock production of various types and requirements, and off farm activities). Hired labour is unreliable due to increased construction activities and better opportunities across the border in SA. A study done by Ministry of Agriculture (MoA 1992) showed that each farmer requires a total of 208 man-days (124 man days for crops and 84 for livestock), during the labour peak months of December-May when crops are growing. Our study found each family has an average of eight members but only three adults equivalent are available for work at all times of the year and two adults equivalent only for part of the days. This is because 55% of the members were found to be under 15 years old and spend much of their time at school. The adults, most of whom are women, are over 58 years of age. These women have only 5% of their time devoted to livestock activities. They spend 12.7% on crop activities, 63% on household chores and 19.3% on off farm activities (beer brewing, basket making etc). It is evident that hiring of labour is necessary if all activities have to be performed efficiently. However, the cost of hiring is prohibitive as it costs a farmer P 0.92/hour for livestock labour and P 0.97/hour for crops

This has resulted in poor management due to labour shortages resulting in straying of animals, loss through diseases and poor nutrition.

Inadequate water sources and long distances to dams or boreholes have forced some of these farmers to water their animals in municipal sewage ponds (9% of the farmers).

Marketing constraints

Farmers claim that BMC prices are low (Table 3) as compared to private agents who do not look at the grade of the animal and pay P 100/goat (1993). However, this unofficial channel is not reliable.

Long distances to abattoirs, poor roads and lack of transport. The study discovered that most farmers, especially women, do not own trucks that could ease their transport problems (Table 5). The type of transport owned is inappropriate for transporting goats. Hiring of trucks could cost a farmer up to P 200/trip. But most earn only an average of P 3307 or US$ 1272 p.a. (Mrema 1994). This restricts the number of trips to be made to the market.

Table 5. Types of transport owned.


Mode of transport

% of farmers

Owned

Hired

Female

Male

Female

Male

Tractor

13

16

-

19.3

Donkey carts

17

25.3

-

-

Truck (lorry)

13.7

37.2

37

21.5

Most of the goats sold are of grades B1 and B2 and the prices of these are lower (Table 6). These low grades are caused by long distances walked to abattoirs, insufficient feeding and poor quality pastures among other reasons. This has led to the belief that if goats are kept longer they fetch higher prices.

Delays in payment or problems in cashing cheques issued by official channels (BMC and its agents) also act as deterrents to use of these official outlets.

Table 6. BMC prices (Pula) for goats according to grade, 1982-85.


Grade

Year

1982

1983

1985

Super

153

215

237

A1

144

202

223

A3

96

135

149

B1

134

187

206

B2

124

174

192

B3

96

135

149

Those in Super and A grades are young goats with less than two permanent incisors while those in B grade are older with more than two permanent incisors.

Source: Molefe (1985).

It is evident therefore that in order for maximum output to be realised from goats, farmers need to use all the necessary inputs (resources), e.g. water, feed, disease control and genetic improved technology at the optimum level as portrayed by Dillon's model (Figure 1). Falling short of this combination as is the case with most farmers, the resuIts are generally below the maximum output or product. Other factors not in the model, like marketing and institutional factors, play a major role in determining level of production and marketing.

Figure 1. Relationship between various inputs used and livestock production.

Source: McLeod (1989).

Conclusion and recommendations

The GoB is spending large amounts of money to achieve its set objectives of increased income and nutrition for poorer farmers, import substitution etc. However, since the farmer is the decision maker on how much of each resource (time, inputs, finances etc) to allocate to many competing ends, and since he is faced with a number of his own objectives and constraints on the farm, sometimes the intended results are never achieved. Production, marketing and institutional constraints have resulted in low production and offtake and hence low incomes all discouraging farmers from increasing inputs to goat production. This vicious cycle needs to be broken.

It is therefore imperative that, since most of the African small-scale farmers suffer the same fate, governments, institutions and farmers work together to first identify problem areas and solve them in order to give way for appropriate policies and technologies to work.

References

Bank of Botswana. 1993. Annual Report. Bank of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana. 114 pp.

CSO (Central Statistics Office). 1992. External Trade Statistics, Department of Customs and Excise. Government Printer, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 1-2, 232-233.

CSO (Central Statistics Office). 1993. Statistical Bulletin 18(2):48-51. CSO, Gaborone, Botswana.

Chernichovsky D., Robert E.B. and Mueller E. 1985. Household Economy of Rural Botswana: An African Case. World Bank Staff Working Paper 715. World Bank, Washington, DC, USA. pp. 1-12.

MFDP (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning). 1991. National Development Plan 7 (1991-1997). Government Printer, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 239-267.

MoA (Ministry of Agriculture). 1985. Agricultural Statistics. Government Printer, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 51-63.

MoA (Ministry of Agriculture). 1988. Agricultural Statistics. Government Printer, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 52-61.

MoA (Ministry of Agriculture). 1990. Agricultural Statistics. Government Printer, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 56-67.

MoA (Ministry of Agriculture). 1991. Botswana's Agricultural Policy: Critical Sectoral Issues and Future Strategy for Development. MoA, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 3-42.

MoA (Ministry of Agriculture). 1992. Farm Management Survey, Results 1978-1988. Survey Comparisons Planning and Statistics Division, MoA, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 1-41.

Molefe D.S. 1985. Review of the present Sheep and Goat Production Programmes and future prospects. In: Morapedi N.T. (ed), Food Comes First. Seminar Proceedings on Livestock Production, Marketing, Training and Development. University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana. pp. 66-75.

Mrema M. 1994. An Economic Evaluation of the Utilisation of Donkeys in Small Scale Farming Households in Botswana. A paper presented at the 2nd International Colloquium on Working Equines, Rabat, Morocco, 20-22 April 1994. 11 pp.


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