Goat rearing offers hope to farmers devastated by January Disease Kalahari red goat stud breeder Mr Nqobile Madlela educates participants during goat farming training held at Mpisini Village in Ward 14 in Umzingwane District, Matabeleland South. (Picture by Nkosizile Ndlovu)

Ashley Phiri, [email protected]

DEVASTATED by theileriosis or January disease that killed thousands of cattle in Matabeleland South province this year, the Mpisini community in Umzingwane district has turned to a new source of hope — goats.

The loss was immense. Umzingwane district alone lost 2 800 cattle to the disease, a big blow as cattle are not just measure of wealth but also provide draught power.

A goat rearing project being spearheaded by Agritex alongside partners like King of the Reds Veld Chevon Genetics South Africa and Reuben Boer Goats’ Farm, has rekindled farmers’ hopes.

The project aims to empower farmers with the knowledge and skills needed to successfully raise goats. Over 300 farmers from Ward 14, Umzingwane district, participated in a one-day training session held at a local church in Mpisini on Friday.

Agritex extension officer Mr Mkhululi Ngwenya said goats were resistant to diseases like theileriosis.

“This makes them a more reliable livestock option for communities that have lost cattle to January disease,” said Mr Ngwenya.

He said many farmers were devastated after their cattle were killed by the January disease.

“Luckily, we have a WhatsApp group called Abalimi Abasafufusa, which translates to farmers that are growing. This group has a lot of farmers from Matabeleland as well as specialists who are always sharing knowledge. These specialists are the ones who advised that we should venture into goat rearing in this particular region as goats are less susceptible to diseases and better suited for the terrain,” said Mr Ngwenya.

Founder of Abalimi Abasafufusa group, Mr Thulile Sikhosana said the knowledge shared at the training will not only benefit the community but will also assist the farmers to recover from the trauma caused by the death of their cattle.

Mrs Sithandazile Matipira from Malungwane Village said after the training, she now appreciates the great potential of goat farming.

“I already have goats at home but as it is they are roaming around the bush without getting proper care. I was under the impression that cattle are more important. Today I learnt that goats can have the same impact that cattle have but with less hassle,” she said.

Mrs Matipira said armed with the knowledge from the training, she hopes to improve her goat farming.

Ward 14 Councillor, Mr John Sibindi, sees the project as a springboard to success. He believes the knowledge and experience gained will enable farmers to benefit more from the Presidential Goat Scheme.

“We had lost hope after losing most of our cattle and we now know that goat farming could be the alternative for most families,” he said.

Mr Nqobile Madlela, a red Kalahari goat stud breeder from King of the Reds Veld Chevon Genetics South Africa, took farmers through various goat management topics. He stressed the importance of empowering farmers with proper and adequate knowledge. This, he stressed, would be key to building thriving goat projects and ultimately improving families’ livelihoods.

Mr Madlela donated a red Kalahari stud to the community, along with five goat dip tanks for each village in ward 14. These dip tanks will play a vital role in protecting the goats from diseases.

“We are proud to work with the village farmer to develop a goat that is climate smart. The January Disease and hunger will soon be a thing of the past,” he said.


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