Raising goats improve income

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


BY RAISING goats, Filipino farmers can help augment milk production in the country and lessen the malnutrition problem among children, especially those living in rural areas.

“If only more and more farmers will raise goats in their farms, the health status of our children will improve,” said Roy C. Alimoane, the director of the Davao-based Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC).

“Not only that, our importation of milk and other dairy products will further decrease,” he added.

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Most people think of impending war between China and the Philippines or the military against insurgents. But actually a war is already ongoing in the country. But most people hardly notice the battle as the enemy is stealthy creeping individuals, mostly children from rural areas. The unseen adversary is malnutrition.

"Malnutrition remains a public health problem in the Philippines particularly among infants and young children," admits Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

"We're still losing one generation after another to malnutrition and this just shouldn’t be happening anymore," deplores Dr. Howart Bouis, a senior research fellow at the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute.

As such, Alimoane bats for the raising of goats to combat malnutrition, which is prevalent among rural areas. “If farmers can raise their own source of fresh milk, they don’t need refrigerators anymore,” he says.

Refrigerators are needed in order for the milk not to be spoiled.

"Studies conducted in the United States and other countries showed that goat’s milk is comparable to that of mother’s milk," Alimoane said.

A research done by the DOST showed that goat's milk per 200 milligram serving can provide 20 percent of the daily requirements for calcium, four percent for vitamin A, and eight percent for iron.

The fat and protein of goat’s milk are finely divided, which makes it more easily digestible. “Goat’s milk can be digested within 20 minutes compared to cow’s milk which takes at least two to three hours to be digested,” says Alimoane.

Whereas cow's milk is acid in reaction, goat’s milk is distinctly alkaline, thereby making it useful in cases of hyperacidity. For those who are lactose intolerant, goat’s milk would be a good alternative.

The MBRLC has developed a farming system that integrates goat raising. It is called Simple Agro-Livestock Technology (Salt 2), a modification of its famous Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (Salt 1).

Under the Salt 2 scheme, 40 percent of the farm’s land is devoted to agricultural crops (like citrus, black pepper, beans, and corn), 40 percent to livestock (particularly goats), and 20 percent to forestry (mostly fruit trees and various nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs).

"Our model farm is only one-half hectare,” said Alimoane. Instead of raising cattle, which requires a land area of one hectare per animal, MBRLC recommended goats.

"Although a goat is small, she can produce as much as four liters of milk every day if she is purebred and is given a ration to meet all of her nutritional requirements," he said.

In Salt 2, 12 does and one buck are raised. The buck is separated from the does so that when it is time to milk the does, the milk won’t “catch” the “goaty smell” of the buck. During breeding, a doe is brought to the cottage of the buck. The manure is utilized as fertilizer for the forage and the crops.

As it follows the original SALT system, hedgerows of various nitrogen fixing trees are planted all over the farm. At the lower portion, more forage crops are planted. The forages and hedgerows are cut every now and then and the cuttings are used as feed for goats.

The goat manure is utilized as fertilizer for the forages and agricultural crops (which are planted at the upper portion of the farm). Studies have shown that goat manure contains 1.5 percent of nitrogen, 1.2 percent of potassium, and 0.5 percent of phosphorus.

There is money in goat’s milk. At the MBRLC, fresh milk is sold at P19 (330 milligrams), 26 (500 milligrams), and 50 (one liter). When mixed with chocolate and little sugar, the cost is P22, P33, and P60, respectively.

“With fresh goat’s milk, you can be sure that the milk your child is taking is free from harmful chemicals,” Alimoane declares.

Raising goats can also help ease milk importation. A report released by the National Dairy Authority (NDA) showed that imports on milk and dairy products decreased by around 6 percent -- from 319.17 million kilograms in 2010 to 300.68 million kilograms in 2011. But the country’s total daily import bill rose from US$729.03 million in 2010 to US$847.68 million in 2011.

But the good news is: the local dairy sector produced 3.72 percent more in 2011 due to the improved productivity of dairy animals. “By animal source, 63 percent of the volume of milk production was cow’s milk, 36 carabao’s milk and 1 percent goat’s milk.

“I think the contribution of goats in the country’s milk production will greatly improve if farmers will include raising goats into their system of farming now,” says Alimoane, a livestock specialist.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 21, 2014.

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