Goat farming may be the way out of poverty for farmers in rural India. With the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, the Indian Prime Minister and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations (U.N.), are developing goat farming in India as a way of lifting farmers out of poverty.
In April of 2018, IFAD held a two-day conference regarding the best methods to promote goat farming and develop the sector, with a particular focus on the rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha.
IFAD recognizes the potential for profits from goat farming: how it is important for the wellbeing of farmers, gives a boost to the agricultural based manufacturing economy that is prevalent in India and would help the country reach some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the U.N.
India is home to the second largest goat population already, making goats a readily accessible resource. Goats require little investment; as long as there is land to graze, goats can survive – even in drought-ridden areas. Biologically, goats are a strong resource because they can reproduce twice a year, giving birth to twins more often than triplets and quadruplets.
IFAD says, “raising goats is an income-generating activity that has enormous potential to increase incomes and improve nutrition for resource poor households, especially in remote, tribal and ecologically vulnerable areas…It is an activity that requires minimal investment and input costs. Goats are also prolific breeders and have a good survival rate in drought prone areas.”
IFAD recognizes that there is a market for goat-based products, such as goat cheese, in overseas markets. This will connect India, and in particular, rural India, to global, competitive markets. Goats also provide more than just milk products, such as leather and meat, which expands the markets that can be reached through the development of goat farming in India.
How would it work in India?
Estimates show that each goat could produce a net income of approximately 1200-1300 rupees per year. An average size of a herd of goats is 15, which could equal approximately 12000-19,000 rupees per year for each farmer. This provides farmers in India with extra means, and can lift them out of poverty.
IFAD, in conjunction with the Indian federal government is working with partnerships such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Agri-Solutions to develop goat farming in India in the three regions of particular concern – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha.
Goat Farming and Poverty Alleviation
The only foreseeable threat to the development of the goat farming sector is urbanization. Goat farming is only sustainable if goats have ample lands to graze upon. As urbanization increases in India, there is the threat of encroachment on open lands, which would be used to farm goats.
Goat farming in India provides a unique way to begin lifting farmers out of poverty, while simultaneously connecting India to global markets. As the sector develops, farmers’ incomes will double, and the agricultural-based economy in India will get a much-needed boost.
– Katherine Kirker