Constraints and Opportunities in Smallholder Dairy Goat Production Systems in the Kenya
Keywords:Dairy, goat, milk, smallholder, constraints, opportunities
Dairy goats production play a significant role in improving the livelihoods of poor smallholder farmers in developing countries. Goats sector productivity and profitability has been low despite its importance. The overall objective of any livestock producer is to maximize on animal productivity and subsequently the enterprise profitability. Various attempts have been made to achieve this goal in smallholder dairy goat production systems in Kenya without much success. We hypothesised that one of the main cause of the failure is lack of holistic approach to evaluation of the opportunities and constraints encountered in the sector. This leads to design of intervention strategies that are suboptimal. This study addressed this weakness by using different data capture approaches mainly survey, observation, focus group discussion (FGD) and experts opinions to determine and critically analyse the opportunities and challenges limiting the expansion of smallholder dairy goats sector in Kenya. Approximately 70% of the respondents identified market as the key challenge. This is best captured from an excerpt by a participant during a FGD meeting “…. if only there was reliable market for milk and the replacement stock, I think the other constraints would sort themselves out”. Fourty percent of the smallholder dairy goat producers (SDGPs) interviewed attested to use of crossbreeding aimed at improving the dairy goats’ performance. This is despite the fact that 100% of the SDGPs interviewed indicated that they did not care which breeds were involved as long as they were both exotic “… we use any good buck in the neighbourhood or within a farmers group for the purposes of upgrading”. Use of different data collection, analysis and interpretation approaches provided accurate and reliable information usable in choice of intervention measures aimed at increased production and profitability in smallholder dairy goat systems in the tropics.