SMALL RUMINANTS -AN ECONOMIC BOOST FOR POOR FARMING FAMILIES
The objective of Extra Mile West Africa’s small ruminant (sheep and goat) project is to improve family welfare in small-scale, mixed-farming systems by improving the productivity of sheep (meat) and goats (meat and *milk). Small ruminant meat prices are extraordinarily high and it would seem this stems from the perception that small ruminants are a secondary source of income and are therefore not given support from private producers. With this in mind, the project would like to not only target the poorest, most deprived and economically weak farmers in our communities, but encourage progressive and well-to-do farmers to join hands with our NGO in order to provide impetus in achieving project goals. This approach was very successful when applied to our beekeeping projects, and to date our district has become the largest honey-producing district in Ghana. See Bees and Honey
With small animal production we’d like to target women because their role as family income earners is an important aspect in communities in this district. Apart from the obvious benefits of small-animal rearing, livestock fodder production is another important project that women could involve themselves in. Distribution of local goats on credit to those identified as poor by the community is being considered as part of our program goals once a measure of sustainability is achieved.
*There are no milk producing goats that we know of in Ghana.
“Through time and with further extension and animal health education, future group members will be encouraged to use exotic goat breeds to improve their stock.”
Progress to date. Our small ruminant pilot project kicked off this month (April 2022) with the purchase of one ram, two ewes and two nannies from northern Ghana. To our pleasant surprise, a friend and local businessman encouraged our fledgling project by donating one pregnant ewe. The project has also received 1,000 meters of goat fence wire and 200 star-picket, iron posts. Our local chief has donated land for the project as well as assisted in building a bungalow for NGO staff. This pilot project is a volunteer, community-based effort, so we’d like to thank those donors who have come forward and given financially and in kind to assist us in getting our feet on ground.
Breed improvement and stock management essentials
As expensive as small ruminants are in this part of the country, surprisingly enough, management and health care practices don’t seem to be part of stock owners considerations. Animals are often left to roam the streets and garbage pits where they are at times hit by passing vehicles or rummage for less-than-desirable forage. These nomadic flocks also suffer from problems related to inbreeding.
Breed improvement through the introduction of exotic meat and milk breeds is something our project is already discussing. Management skill training makes sense. Zero grazing is practiced by a relatively low number of small-scale family livestock owners in an attempt to avoid the problems mentioned above. EMWA however would like to establish a come-and-see, small-scale, open-grazing, pilot project on the outskirts of Nkwanta in the Oti District.
Farm Management (Longreach Pastoral College, Australia)
“EMWA does not encourage free handouts. Credit repayment schemes are being researched through other successful small ruminant projects in Africa. Repayment in kind, for example is virtually inflation proof. This approach was very successful in our beekeeping project and was accomplished without having bank accounts or complicated book keeping.”