CHANGE

Why rural farmers are embracing Galla goat as a source of income

The goats are docile and easy to handle unlike their cousins, the East African goat

In Summary
  • In Tharaka Nithi County, communities are reshaping their adaptation strategy by embracing a unique breed of goats, the Galla that is more resilient.
  • The Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies collaborated with the locals and national governments to empower the rural farmers.
Galla goats in West Pokot
NEW BREED: Galla goats in West Pokot
Image: MARYANN CHAI

Local communities in Kenya are adapting to climate change through different approaches in order to mitigate its harmful effects demonstrated most visibly through frequent cycles of drought.

In Tharaka Nithi County, communities are reshaping their adaptation strategy by embracing a unique breed of goats, the Galla that is more resilient to the changing conditions.

It is also commonly referred to as the Boran or Somali goat. This breed has two main sub-types, the Degyir and Degun.

The goats are docile and easy to handle unlike their cousins, the East African goat.

According to Simon Topisia, Veterinary officer, KENDAT, they have a programme aimed at empowering rural farmers in the county.

“The Galla goat is a strong breed of goat that has a reputation for surviving droughts thanks to its higher resistance to opportunistic diseases that eliminate ordinary goats due to weakening body immune system. Compared to ordinary goats living among the communities in Kenya, the Gallabreed boasts higher yield of milk,” says Topisia.

The Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT)collaborated with the locals and national governments to empower the rural farmers.

Our campaign is aimed at boosting climate adaptation among the arid and semi-arid communities by empowering them to embrace Galla goatbreed, which has a high yield return compared to other breeds,” said Eston Murithi, KENDAT, CEO.

KENDAT has organized the farmers into self-help groups where they sensitized on the value of their goats, these groups are made up of 26members in which 16 are women.

The Kamarandi self-help group is one of those that have benefited from KENDAT initiative.

“We have been trained on goat breeding techniques such as fodder banking where  that our goats have feed during the dry season. Our members each have at least 20 - 60 goats that they breed at home and they have a continuous source of income that enables them to care for their families,” said Daniel Njeru, chairman of the Kamarandi self-help group,

Since the inception of the group in 2015, they have been able to transform their lives as narrated by Jane Gacheri, treasurer of the group.

“Initially when we were practicing small scale farming we were not reaping much and we had struggle to pay school fees for our children. But when I joined this group I was offered a loan in form of a Galla goat which I bred and today I have 12 goats which makes me earn between Sh20,000 - 40,000” she said.

Her sentiments are affirmed by Moses Rubane, a member of the group who recently praised the Galla goats during our interview.

“The Galla goats mature into adults at around six months, half-a-year sooner than the local breeds. That means faster reproductive cycles. More breeding and fast maturity means more goats, and more goats means more money,” says Rubane.

The goats, along with other climate-smart farming activities, have brought more food to the table to these rural farmers within the county.

A recent survey done by the World Bank Group in arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya reveals that of 139 households found that 81 percent suffered upto two ‘hunger months’ a year, with families eating just one or even no meals a day.

That number has now dropped to 23 per cent with the introduction of Galla goat among communities in these regions.

“Our partnership KENDAT in training of the locals on the importance of goat rearing has really transformed the lives of many households in this county,”said James Mathenge,  Livestock Expert from the National Government who is based in Marimanti Sheep and Goat station within the county.