Goat is an important commodity of national economic significance in Nepal; however, it continues to encounter challenges in becoming an income-generating tool for small-scale farmers. The majority of goat meat consumed is imported from neighboring countries. Heifer has been working with small-scale women farmers by training them to become qualified goat entrepreneurs to fill the demand.
Heifer Nepal recently hosted the Goat Sub-Sector Policy Workshop with Nepal’s Ministry of Livestock Development. Representatives from the Government of Nepal, Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, private sector entrepreneurs in the goat sub-sector, bank and financial institutions, producer cooperatives, bi-and multilateral institutions, media and other experts attended. Findings and recommendations from the joint policy study were announced as attendees outlined and prioritized issues to address.
In Heifer project sites, productivity increased from 1.54 in 2012 to 2.4 in 2017. This data debunks the long-held notion that the genetic capacity of the indigenous herd is not sufficient for increased productivity. Instead, what is necessary is good management practices.
While the government of Nepal has many policies regarding agriculture, it lacks goat meat value chain policy. For a country gripped by poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, gender inequality and social isolation, the goat value chain has the capability of uplifting poor families and creating economic transformation within the country.
Nearly 90 percent of all goat meat produced in Nepal is by small-scale farms that depend on small numbers of livestock and small pieces of land to make ends meet. With 20 years of experience in livestock, Heifer Nepal has been engaging farmers in goat value chain enterprises, as well as using cooperatives Heifer farmers have formed as business hubs that provide access functions in various aspects such as finance, services, insurance and market.
Dr. Keshav Prasad Premi, the Joint Secretary of Ministry of Livestock Development, emphasized the need to create an enabling environment for goat and other agricultural value chains. He highlighted the scope of employment and income for Nepalese youth in the goat enterprise who have been trying to go to foreign nations in search of job opportunities. He stated that Nepal has achieved self-reliance in eggs and is working toward achieving self-reliance in meat. He said the policy study is vital to understanding the where, what and why of development’s slow pace and to overcoming challenges and obstacles in the market gap to move ahead in the sector.
Heifer Nepal’s Director of Programs, Neena Joshi, spoke about Heifer’s experiences in the goat value chain. She also gave an overview on the policy study, discussing the methodology, key findings and recommendations. A lively discussion followed in plenary sessions with proactive participation by private sector value chain actors, cooperatives, and government and development stakeholders.
Dr. Bimal Kumar Nirmal, Director General of Department of Livestock Services, spoke about ways the goat industry can help achieve food and nutrition security in the future. By controlling imports, leaders can better strengthen and promote local products. Dr. Nirmal emphasized the need to reduce the middle-man approach and decrease the gap between producers to consumer. He also discussed the importance of collaboration with the Department of Forests. Dr. Nirmal expressed optimism in working with Heifer to develop small-scale farming families and the goat value chain in Nepal.
Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary of Ministry of Livestock Development, stated that goat is preferred by all members of society, regardless of caste, ethnicity and religion, making it a suitable means of nutrition and income. Dr. Oli stressed the need to review and update existing policies, noting that funds allocated for livestock have not been spent while people in dire conditions and have been ignored by the state.
Heifer Nepal Country Director Dr. Shubh Mahato thanked participants for the valuable suggestions and stated his commitment to supporting Ministry of Livestock Development and collaborating with them where needed. He hopes future policies will help small-scale farming families.
Heifer’s Senior Vice President of Programs Dr. Mahendra Lohani closed the session, emphasizing the need for collaboration between government, NGOs/ INGOs and the private sector. Dr. Lohani mentioned how livestock may be the solution to reduce poverty and fulfill nutritional needs of malnourished children, and also has the capability to empower marginalized women who haven’t been included in development strategies. He emphasized the need to strengthen the small-scale farmers, as they produce the majority of food products.
Post by Sumnima Shrestha