Enhanced Smallholder Livestock Enterprise and Market Project
The economic environment of the rural poor comprises several interlocking markets: for agricultural produce, for agricultural inputs, for production support in terms of extension services, for financial services, for information, for assets and other consumer goods. The terms upon which the rural poor enter and participate in such markets is sometimes inequitable. Many of the poor are currently passive participants, often obliged to sell low and buy high with little choice of where they conduct transactions, with whom and what price. With the liberalization of the domestic markets, these markets have become more open, with more choices but also complex and uncertain. Liberalization of domestic and international markets gives the poor new opportunities to participate. Today more than ever before, enhancing the ability of the rural poor to reach these markets, actively engage in them is one of the most pressing development challenges. The problem of market access may be considered in three dimensions: the physical (distance to the market), the political (inability to influence the terms of participation in the markets) and structural (lack of market intermediaries) In the dairy sector, about 81% to 83% of the milk produced by smallholder farmers is sold through the informal market with a very short value chain. The milk is either produced and consumed at household level or sold to consumers in the community at the farm gate prices (Strategic Visions Ltd 2011). In such markets there are few bulk purchases as opposed to small quantity purchases and as such do not stimulate commercialization. Goat meat has become the second largest source of red meat after cattle in the towns and cities of Zambia. However, the marketing chain is still very informal meaning there are no established traders who buy goats and there are also no butcheries that specifically slaughter goats. The goats are sold by individual farmers in nearby cities or local communities thus getting low prices for them or not selling many goats at once.
The project directly links to the objective of improving agricultural productivity through innovative approaches to and reintegration into the productive sector. It does this by supporting the increased resilience of households by helping them sustainably increase agricultural yields. Linked to this is the introduction of high quality breeds of dairy cattle and goat production. Dairy production has a high earning potential that has proven (where it has been introduced) to completely transform households from living hand to mouth to being able to grow and expand their productive activities. Goats as well provide a tangible asset that grows from year to year with little family labor needed.