Heifer Nepal Talks "Goats for Growth" at International Expo
Heifer Nepal recently participated in the second International Agritech Expo at the Bhrikutimandap Exhibition Hall in Kathmandu. Our primary objective of participating was to expand the market of local meat goat breeds as opposed to the imported goats.
The tagline “Goats for Growth” was used to signify the importance of goat as a means of growth for both small-scale farmers' incomes and livelihoods as well as in the national economy.
Our display featured local goat breed marketing to promote the business of Social Entrepreneurs Women’s Cooperatives from Palpa and Sindhuli. These cooperatives are producing and marketing breeding animals through the Community Initiative for Genetic Improvement of Goats project.
The Heifer Nepal team provided information on improved animal husbandry (cattle, goat, poultry) and distributed posters and booklets. The team also offered counseling to attendees interested in agri-enterprises, especially in goat and dairy businesses. A large number of entrepreneurs and technicians from throughout Nepal benefitted with the counseling and informational kit.
During the four-day Expo, our booth received more than 50,000 visitors, which included entrepreneurs, farmers, veterinary- and agri-technicians, students, development workers, government officials, media personnel and the general public.
Goats for Growth
Heifer Nepal hosted an Agri Symposium on “Goats for Growth," highlighting the importance of goat sub-sector in overall growth and development of the country.
Director of Programs Neena Joshi started the day by highlighting the following:
- goat is the seventh priority commodity out of 10 commodities mentioned in the Agriculture Development Strategy; however, Nepal is importing nearly 400,000 goats annually from neighboring countries;
- goat meat demand is growing with the increasing purchasing capacity of the consumers;
- in this scenario, there is significant potential for local goat meat in the market and Heifer is directing its efforts toward promoting the market for local meat goats produced by small-scale farmers through the public-private producer partnership model.
In the panel discussion that followed, the group focused on the opportunities of goat enterprises in Nepal, challenges and way forward for small-scale farmers to penetrate into current competitive goat market. The panelist team included:
- Ganga Shah, Social Entrepreneur Womens’ Cooperative District Union, Banke
- Chetan Bhandari, CEO, Bajeko Sekuwa (restaurant chain)
- Aamod Shrestha, Machhapucchhre Bank Limited
- Dr. Bimal Kumar Nimal, Director General, Department of Livestock Services
Representing a group of 15,000 goat producers, Ganga Shah said it was impossible for an individual small-scale farmer to participate in price fixation and compete with big businessmen supplying large numbers of goats in the market. Federating these individual farmers into cooperatives and then District Union has helped aggregate goats from a large number of farmers and then connect with local and terminal markets, hence overcoming the challenge of market competition.
Chetan Bhandari noted per capita meat consumption is very low in Nepal as compared to other countries and there is a long way to go to meet the growing demand for goat meat as per capita consumption increases. Consumers in his restaurant prefer Nepali local goat meat due to its meat quality and good taste; however, traders prefer Indian goats due to mass import at cheaper rates and higher profit margins. To compete in this market, more opportunities should be created to link the goat enterprise with subsidiary businesses like fodder/forage, feed, veterinary services and input supplies to increase production at a lower investment to meet the current market trend.
Aamod Shrestha, from the banking sector, mentioned that there is a provision of at least 10 percent loan disbursement in agriculture sectors, which requires a one-page proposal from small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs. However, due to long documentation process, farmers are more interested in taking loans from co-ops and other financial institutions with high-interest rates. This should be discouraged as it increases the production costs for farmers. To overcome this trend, many banks are providing financial literacy focusing on small-scale farmers in agri-potential locations.
Dr. Bimal Kumar Nirmal reported that the current goat flock size in Nepal is around 11 million, an increase of 4 million in 2008. According to government data, 90 percent of meat consumers are eating Nepali goat meat. The government recently announced output-based subsidy for farmers to promote market of Nepali products.
Key constraints mentioned during the open discussion included:
- the permit mechanism for export and import of goat is weak in Nepal;
- transportation hurdles; limited facilities in vehicles;
- low participation of producers in value chain and markets;
- weak implementation of Meat Inspection Act;
- goat meat quality is deteriorated due to limited transport facilities.
Issues raised during the floor discussions included:
- youth-focused employment on goat to prevent migration of youth abroad;
- unemployed individuals have no fixed property to deposit as collateral at the bank;
- need for a youth-focused program at the community level;
- policy gaps in insurance of goats;
- need help from the government to maintain data/records of commercial goat farmers;
- production needs to be guided by market demands;
- lack of goat farmer-friendly activities;
- hurdles to receive grant provision by government and donors, easy access by "elite" farmers;
- need more research and evidence before the promulgation of policy and standard;
- co-ops are not eligible to receive grants for goat production and marketing according to current act;
- need product certification authorities;
- need quarterly monitoring mechanism of loans to maintain discipline of the loan takers;
- need to give more priority to promote Nepali goat in all aspects of value chain.
A total of 300 people participated in the symposium session, including farm and meat entrepreneurs from all over the country, vet technicians, experts, professionals and media. The symposium session was successful in highlighting the role of local goat in the socio-economic development of Nepal and promoting the local goats against imported ones among consumers.
The event raised Heifer’s profile as a sustainable development organization targeting marginal small-scale farmers focusing on the entire goat meat value-chain — from producers and input suppliers to retailers and consumers.