Banke Goat Business Center Gives Smallholders Access to Markets
Heifer Nepal proudly inaugurated the much awaited Banke Goat Business Center in Dhakeri, Raptisonari, Banke. The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Chakrapani Khanal formally inaugurated the business center and also took a small tour of the facility. Established with financial and technical support from Heifer Nepal, the business center’s main objective is to ensure access to market for farmers through collective goat marketing of goat produced by smallholders to urban markets. The inauguration event saw the participation of Provincial Minister for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative along with other officials from the government, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, cooperative members, farmers and journalists.
The business center supports its members with quality goat production and marketing. Operated by the Social Entrepreneurs Women’s Cooperative District Union Banke, this business center successfully links 15,000 farmers (from Banke, Bardiya and Dang districts) to end market. A total of 15 Social Entrepreneur Women’s Cooperatives are currently associated with the District Union.
With the capacity of holding 500 goats at a time, the business center is a state of the art facility which acts as a model for government, donor agencies, aspiring goat entrepreneurs, local residents and more importantly to increase this number to 30,000 in two years. In addition to increasing profit to the District Union, the business center aims to improve the livelihood of farming families through increasing annual family income to 557,000 Nepalese rupees ($5,570 USD) by 2021.
The business center is a venue that supports smallholder farmers for goat collection, aggregation and trade. In addition to this, it also helps in increasing goat production and productivity as per market demand through providing inputs (like fodder/forage seeds, animal feed) and services (like animal health, loans, insurance, market) to farmers. The business center facility has been constructed following the animal welfare guidelines, and is a best learning platform for other organizations working in the sector.
Minister Charkapani Khanal appreciated both the goat business center and the goat transport vehicle designed by Heifer, which takes particular care for animal welfare and is built as per animal transport standard as set by the government of Nepal. He said, “We should be recognizing women for all the hard work they put in despite having so many multitude of priorities. Entrepreneurship is a culture that is lacking in the Nepalese mindset and livestock is a great tool in reducing poverty and increasing the standard of living of the people.” He committed to the ministry taking farmers' suggestions and then planing their policies accordingly.
Provincial Minister for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives Aarti Poudel talked about the struggles women face in the agribusiness sector and how Heifer’s work on Values-Based Holistic Community Development has been steadily changing the face of the community. She recalled when she herself was once a Heifer project partner and had to go door-to-door talking to farmers to understand their challenges. As a minister now, she talked about the innovative plans the ministry is developing — such as the Guru Kishan (Teacher Farmer) program where successful farmers will act as mentors for aspiring farmers and help them tackle their challenges. She committed to being an advocate for women in the future.
Ganga Chand Thakuri, president of Banke District Union, said, “This business center has made our dream come true. It was the biggest challenge especially for women farmers to roam around looking for buyers and traders. Now, with this business center established, we can aggregate the goat produced by our cooperatives and their farmers in one place. We can also negotiate with buyers, and are able to send a truck load of goats to end markets in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Nepalgunj. This center has encouraged our members to increase their production as well, in both quality and quantity.”
A goat farmer associated with Janani Social Entrepreneur Women’s Cooperative said, “We used to sell the goats to random buyers without weighing that makes us very little profit and at times even loss. Sometimes we encountered fraudulent buyers, too. Now that the cooperative has its own goat collection center and the new goat business center run by the District Union, we can sell our goats and weigh them in person to ensure we get fair prices for the animals. We are getting an additional $20 to $30 per goat when selling through the cooperative.”
Heifer Nepal Country Director Shubh Mahato thanked all the stakeholders and participants for their support in making this possible and requested the continued collaboration for developing the goat sub-sector and improving lives of farmers. In attendance to congratulate Heifer Nepal and Banke District Union on the inauguration of the business center were: Krishna KC, a member of provincial parliament; Randi Hedin, Heifer International board member; Dr. Mahendra Lohani, senior vice president of programs; Rudra Prasad Paudel from Department of Livestock Services; and Jeevan Khatiwada from Goat Entrepreneurs Association.
Annual meat consumption in Nepal is approximately 300,000 metric tons, of which goat meat accounts for 20 percent. This percentage is growing along with the purchasing power of consumers. Although the demand for goat meat is high, the formal market is underdeveloped, as evidenced by high import rates from India. The constraints on production (input market), compounded by smallholder producers’ lack of access to the formal food market (output market), have resulted in huge import of goat and goat meat from abroad. Currently, the import of goat and goat meat alone accounts for 2 percent of total trade deficit. The Banke Goat Business Center contributes toward reducing the import of goat and achieving the government’s commitment of making Nepal self-sufficient in meat.