After her husband died, Irene Chipadze struggled to earn a living. Today, thanks to a goat-breeding partnership between The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and her country’s government, the widow sees hope.
In Zimbabwe, goats are increasingly used to augment cash income and enhance food security. They serve as an important component in households’ livelihood strategies, particularly in drought-prone areas.
In a country already facing myriad difficulties, poor rains and erratic weather patterns negatively affect crop harvests and livelihood projects. The World Food Programme estimates that in 2018, “more than 1.1 million people face food insecurity at the peak of the lean season.”
Stepping up efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty in Zimbabwe’s rural areas, United Methodists formed a partnership with the government in goat breeding for food and nutrition in Makoni-Buhera District.
Through the project funded by United Methodist Global Ministries, each participating family receives an indigenous doe that is crossbred with an exotic buck to improve the quality of the existing local breed for income generation.
Before that happens, however, specially trained church staff, along with experts from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Development responsible for livestock production, train hundreds of families in crossbreed goat production.
“We are working with experts from the livestock department so that they train the communal farmers on crossbreeding of goats … to maximize production,” said United Methodist Oswell Ngarande. The support begins before the farmers receive the goats and continues afterward.
Chipadze said she already is realizing the financial benefits of breeding goats. “I can now sustain a living from rearing goats,” she said, “getting quality offspring for sale and increased volumes of milk.”
The project primarily targets child-headed families. Recipients pass on the gift by sharing their does as well as the skills and knowledge of animal husbandry and agricultural training with other impoverished families.
Since the 1980s, The United Methodist Church has been a powerful agent of change and hope in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans face political and human rights abuse, a ruined economy and limited access to medicine, education and utilities. Securing basic needs for survival is a daily challenge. Women, children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
While much has been done to improve agricultural production in the small-scale sector, little is known and documented about the current state of goat production and marketing in the communal areas of Zimbabwe.
But Chipadze has faith in a brighter future. “We are happy with the results of the project,” she said, adding, “We also want it to reach the stage of value addition where we can process the milk into other byproducts like cheese.”
Chingwe is communications coordinator for the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference.
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