Goats are the only medium-sized livestock species that provides: i) a means to accumulate assets through increases in numbers, ii) a regular source of income through sale of animals and manure, and iii) a regular source of household nutrition through consumption of milk. Livestock provides about 20% of the total household income in the hills from the sale of products such as milk and meat.
In addition, livestock contribution to the total agricultural income is in the range of 36 - 47% in the hills and mountains of Nepal (Masterplan, 1993). For most animal farmers in Nepal it’s to be noted that animal are a good income source. Secondary animal products such as cow milk, meat and eggs from chickens and ducks and meat as well as goat cheese are very common in context to Nepal.
Importing meat to meet consumers' demand
In the meantime, if we focus on meat production between 2008 and 2013 there is a significant increase in meat production, even though the production still does not meet the demand of consumers, so annually huge amount of meat is being imported from the neighboring countries.
Fig: Net import of live animals in the past five years (Source: Central Animal Quarantine Office, 2008 cited from the FAO (2010).
By looking at the graph, there is a rapid decrease in goat numbers in 2005 and ranges in the same number until 2008. This implies that there is a significant number of increment in the goat farmers in Nepal where there is a good source of income for their sustainability and better livelihoods. The better evidence for the increase in goat farmers in Nepal can be increased as well in the meat per capita as mentioned earlier.
A statistical fact shared by the Central Bureau of Statistics is that every decade the land holdings numbers of farmers and meat production are also increasing. According to the CBS, in 2001/02 huge amount of the goat farming is residing in the hilly belt of Nepal.
Fig: relation of landholdings and livestock farming (Source CBS (2001))
Actually, not only goat but most of the livestock farming in 2001/02 reported that the major livestock farming was done in the hilly belt in Nepal, which is represented in the figure below:
Fig: Percentage basis of ecological distribution of livestock farming [ source (CBS, 2001)]
If we take into account the database’s percentage basis, this change represents that there was a radical change in a decade phase of 1981-91. As in the decade of 1991-91 there was a change of 51.4% which is quite significant from 1991-2001.
Fig: Percentage change [source (CBS, 2001)]
Festive Seasons and the rise of meat demand
Goat meat is mostly used in festive seasons like dashain. It is estimated that during this festive season the consumption of meat increases by seven times and 60,000 goats are sold in Kathmandu valley (Anon, 2013). It is estimated as well that the price of goat meat during festive seasons hikes up until Rs 800 per kg, where in normal conditions the price of goat meat ranges from Rs 500- 600.
Recently, there was a Gadhimai festival in Nepal where the price of goat meat was as high as Rs. 1000 per kg, while regular goat meat costs Rs. 600 in Bara district. In the past festival in mid-November, an average of 125,000 goats was sold in three months in an average of 41,600 per month. On the other hand, prices of goat meat also depend on chicken meat. For instance, if the animal quarantine reports that there is a bird flu then the price of goat meat hikes up while the price of chicken lowers down.
A typical case in Kathmandu shows that the price of goat meat hiked up to 780 per kg from Rs. 700 in the case of the bird flu (Anonyomous, 2014b). In general there it has been estimated that the price of goat meat hiked up by 4.02% as compared to last year.
Goat cheese - A promising business?
Hiking up the price is ultimately bad for the consumers and for the farmers as well. Due to the presence of middle businessmen, farmers are also in low profit and consumers are supposed to pay high prices. Meat and meat products are growing continually in the Nepalese context, by the fact that the per-capita meat consumption in Nepal has increased from 9.7 in 2007 to 9.8 2008 (MoAC, 2007).
Similarly now the per-capita meat consumption of Nepali is 11.15 in 2014 (Anonymous, 2014a). On the one hand, farmers are producing goat meat, whereas the per-capita meat engagement is also increasing, which supports farmers’ livelihoods. It has been reported that goats are also used as the source of the milk which ultimately contribute to cheese making.
There is only one cheese processing plant in Nepal where goat milk is used: Chitlang. The demand of goat cheese is all marketed in the tourist area i.e., Lakeside of Pokhara, Thamel Kathmandu. According to the owner of the cheese factory, the demand of goat cheese is increasing, although its productivity is not high enough to fulfill the demand (Anonymous, 2013).
Goat trainings for young farmers
Besides, many trainings on goat farming carried out by various NGO’s and INGO’s have regularly targeted the youth. For example, the one of initiated by Rotract Club of Dharan Ghopa called “Abhilasha goat project” is one of the best known goat training projects in the Sunsari district. Through this initiative, the club provides the young farmers with goats, assuring that they will return the baby-goat to them in order to give it to other young farmers for better sustainability. This follows the process of Deming [plan, do, check and act].
The interim-constitution of Nepal defines youth from aged from 16-40. Therefore, the number of young farmers who are getting more engaged in goat farming is high. Still, due to the lack of processing technology, young people are unable to process goat milk to cheese, which could yield good revenue to them.
Likewise, farming is practiced in rural areas in Nepal so most of the young farmers who are engaged in the goat farming cannot access veterinary doctors.
Another reason for youth getting diverted in agriculture is due to the modern practices seen in the abroad country and imitating them in the local practice to increase productivity. A similar scenario is also seen in the context of goat farming in Sunsari district.
Fig: Group picture after the training. (NCBL, 2013)
Goat meat Vs Goat Cheese
In conclusion, engagement in farming is increasing day by day which is helping at the same time to build sustainable livelihoods. In context to goat farming practice in Nepal, farming is being practiced by most of the people who are residing in the hilly areas of the country. However, still during the festive seasons, the produced meat doesn’t fulfill the demand.
Regarding goat cheese, it is highly expensive when comparing it to the goat meat which costs around Rs. 1,500 per kg in case the goat yields milk. When the goat stops giving milk, then goats are slaughtered and sold for Rs. 650 per kg (Anonymous, 2013). This is cyclic, meaning that one goat or group of goats can contribute more to the economy with cheese than with the meat. however people are not engaging themselves in getting high milk yielding goats but getting involved in getting high meat yielding goats instead.
Pokhara Bigyan Tatha Prawidhi Campus
SALPA Agriculture and Livelihood Promotional Activities.
Anon. (2013). Consumption of meat rises by seven times. Karobar. Karobar business daily. Retrieved from http://www.karobardaily.com/news/2013/10/consumption-of-meat-rises-by-seven-times. [Accessed 28 December 2014].
Anonyomous. (2013). Personal communication [Interview]. 23 September 2013.
Anonyomous. (2014a). Percapita meat consumption up by 11 kg. The Kathmandu Post Kantipur Daily. May 14, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2014/05/15/money/per-capita-meat-consumption-up-11-kg/262840.html#. [Accessed 28 December, 2014].
Anonyomous. (2014b). Price, demand of mutton, fish, buff soars. The Rising Nepal. Gorkhapatra. August 22, 2014. Retrieved from http://trn.gorkhapatraonline.com/index.php/2012-10-16-04-54-48/3800-price,-demand-of-mutton,-fish,-buff-soars.html. [Accessed 28 December, 2014].
CBS. (2001). "National sample of census of agriculture 2001/02". National Planning Comission (Government of Nepal), Nepal. pp. 152-163. Retrieved from http://cbs.gov.np/?p=566. [Accessed December 28 2014].
FAO. (2010). Market led quality to meat production and meat quality [Report]. UN house, Pulchowk Lalitpur, Nepal.
Masterplan, L. S. (1993). [Newsletter].
MoAC. (2007). "Year book of agriculture". (Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives), Nepal.
NCBL. (2013). Goat livelihood in Dang district. NCBL. Retrieved from http://nepal.icbl.org/?p=1785. [Accessed 11 January, 2015].