2 May, 2018

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Goat selection process at Kamchezera village at Mkwinda EPA
Community Based Breeding Programme (CBBP) which LUANAR through the Animal Science Department is implementing in Zombwe Extension Planning Srea (EPA) in Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (ADD), Magoti EPA in Shire Valley ADD and Mkwinda-Mitundu EPAs in Lilongwe ADD will improve goat production in these areas.

The project has attracted high interest among farmers as indicated by increase of number of farmers being recorded into the online database called Data Recording and Management System (DREMS).

According to the project’s Principal Investigator (PI), Professor Timothy Gondwe, the CBBP is emphasizing on selecting bucks [male goats] from within the local breeds, saying this was an alternative to the cross breeding program where Boer goats from outside the country were introduced to crossbreed with the locals which happened not to be doing well under small holder farming systems.

“So as an alternative to that, we are introducing a selection from within local goats using scientific method as scientists, and also traditional method by engaging the communities to do selection based on what they know fits better,” said Prof. Gondwe.

He said in Zombwe and Magoti EPAs, the bucks selected at first and second selection are now breeding goats in the community, saying reports from farmers indicate that kids born are bigger than before selection started.

“We want to prove this scientifically, and hence two MSc students will do their studies in these sites. So, currently we can say CBBP has managed to assist goat farmers to improve the indigenous (local) goats through selection of bucks for a breeding stock,” he said.

Prof. Gondwe went on to say that CBBP also aims to control inbreeding in goats that creates inbreeding depression, a term that refers to reduced performance and viability in goats due to mating of related males and females.

“CBBP has worked with farmers who have appreciated to control this practice by relocating the selected bucks to other areas in their catchment for breeding, and by castrating or assisting farmers to sell out the un-selected bucks for slaughter,” he said.

He added that the last previous selections in Zombwe and Magoti were managed and facilitated by farmers themselves as a sustainable exit strategy, saying farmers are now able to conduct the selection exercises where they show abilities to evaluate the bucks and select those with desirable traits for breeding and even sell to other potential buyers who wish to breed animals in their areas.

One of the beneficiaries, Femida Chitungwi, from Kamchezera village (Mkwinda EPA) thanked LUANAR for introducing the project in her area.

She said the project will increase goat production at her home as well as the entire community, saying this will also change her livelihood as she will be able to sell the goat with an increased meat output as well as improve nutrition of her household as they will be able to eat the meat.

“The project will equip us with necessary skills for goat management. Previously when we were doing it on our own, the care for the goat was minimal which resulted to low meat output. We thank LUANAR for this initiative,” said Chitungwi.

The project, which started with Nsanje and Mzimba in 2014, is being funded by USAID through USDA African Goat Improvement Network (AGIN) and EU under Indigenous Livestock Improvement Program acronym ILINOVA.