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The contribution of goats to household food security in selected communities of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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The growth of the human population in the world has been occurring at a rapid rate. This presents a challenge of how the world food demands will be met. These challenges are always felt the most in developing countries, and result in a lot of people in developing countries turning to alternative sources of income other than employment to manage their food situation. One of the alternatives includes a reliance on animal husbandry in order to meet and improve their livelihoods particularly with respect to food. Furthermore, small-scale farming of animals such as goats, sheep, pigs and chickens has also been an income source when the animals are sold. In developing countries, pastoralism and agro-pastoralism frequently occur among disadvantaged communities, who are often found in arid or semi-arid regions. As a result, goats have been shown to be an important type of livestock that can be kept in such conditions without financially stressing their owner by requiring constant care of supplementary feeds and medication. Goats are known for their resilience which allows them to cope with stressful conditions while being able to reproduce. This resilience and productivity of goats allows their owners to be able to liquidate them for cash if there is a need and also be able to slaughter them for their household consumption. Here, I investigated the contribution of small-scale goat farming to household food security in rural and peri-urban areas in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. The study was carried out in rural and peri-urban areas of Msinga, Kokstad, Howick and Pietermaritzburg in KZN. I used structured questionnaire surveys to determine the contribution of goats to household food security from the farmers’ responses. The questions asked related to the sale of goats (number, sex, age and sale value of the animal) and how the money generated from goat sales was spent. The study also determined goat sales from 27 households in three villages occurring in Msinga over a 2- year period of 2017 to 2018. I also assessed the participation of small-scale farmers in two livestock auctions, which took place in 2019 and 2020 by recording the age, sex, and coat-colour of the animals taken to auctions. The results obtained from the study showed that goats played a role in household food security as a source of cash as well as consumption in strenuous times. These findings of the study highlight that smallscale goat farming provides an alternative food source and income source for disadvantaged farmers. These findings were more prevalent in the rural areas, which kept more goats than those found in the peri-urban areas. Goats in rural areas ranged from 5 to 150 goats in a herd, and 5 to 50 goats in a herd while in periurban areas. Goats were a source of cash in numerous ways including sale of skins after slaughter that are used to craft household items such as stools that can be sold for cash. Adult goats were sold more at the farmers’ homesteads than auctions where buyers opted for younger goats. My results also showed that small-scale farmers use all possible avenues to sell their goats, as they sold a high number of animals from home and did not depend on infrequent livestock auction events. However, there were benefits derived from participating in auctions in terms of the relatively higher prices obtained there. For example, female and male goats sold for R2 177 and R1 268, respectively at auctions. The price was similar for females (R1 083) and males (R1 065) in homesteads. At auctions, female and male goats sold for R2 177 and R1 268, respectively. From homesteads, female and male goats sold for R1 083 and R1 065, respectively. Colour of goats proved to be an important trait at auctions as light-coloured goats were in higher demand than black goats. Homestead sales also remain a useful practice as farmers generate income to assist in day-to-day household expenses instead of waiting for infrequent auction events. Furthermore, small-scale farmers who plan to participate in auctions should pay attention to the characteristics (age, colour, and sex) of their animals when populating their herds. Sub-adult, light-coloured and female goats were the animals that were highly sought after at auctions.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.