2.2 Learning points from the experience and innovation Box 6. What do we learn from this case?
When given appropriate technical support, farmers have proved that they can be very efficient breeders, equitably sharing the limited genetic resources among themselves, hence strengthening communitybased but farmerled genetic improvement systems is a sure way forward that need to be popularized for smallholder targeted goat development programmes. Formation and strengthening if farmer groups, including breeders’ associations at a village level, serve not only as focal centre’s for new technology adaptation and uptake (genetic and husbandry improvement), livestock marketing, but also as avenues for critically addressing the human social factors such as empowerment, good governance, including advocacy rules for the members The farmer groups and associations offer windows of opportunities for accessing and managing hitherto unavailable credit facilities (e.g. cash, drugs, feeding stock and equipment) by the resource poor livestock farmers without demanding collaterals. The community based and farmer led approaches enable partnership building based on shared needs. This leads to integrated systems approach whereby, all aspects (breeding, feeding, fodder development, housing, marketing, disease control etc) are addressed by the farmers, extension staff and researchers together. Policy, research and development needs and issues, especially those touching on the small ruminant sector are better highlighted and discussed when the farmers themselves actively participate. Community based and farmer led initiatives offer direct opportunities for farmers’ participation hence ensuring the inclusion of their view and concerns in the national policy agenda. Farmer group approaches could enable value addition to their animals (breed registration and inspection) and products through better quality control and processing (e.g. cheese and other goat milk products) therefore maximizing returns from the enterprise. Farmers have become more enlightened and empowered in social organizations and development as can be seen in the number of groups being formed and in the successful MGBA annual general meeting and elections. The population of improved goats and pure Toggernburgs that are sold from Meru has continued to increase.
2.3 The group system An overriding here to ask is would the farmers have achieved the success noted if they participated as individuals? FARMAfrica in collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock development helped set up 44 groups of around 1825 farmers – women, men or mixed gender and MGBA has
Case 5 Meru Goat Breeders Association