Goat farming flourishes with Nepalis eating more meatAn estimated 100,000 goats are sold during the Dashain festival in Kathmandu, according to the Department of Livestock Services.
Four years ago, Krishna Raj Upadhyaya of Sarada Municipality-2, Dadagaun started commercial goat farming with seven animals. Now he has 100 local and Boer goats including kids on his farm.
Upadhyaya makes Rs700,000 annually by rearing goats, which not only covers his household expenses, but also allows him to enlarge his savings. He said that he has received further encouragement with greater market access.
Jibraj Bohara of Sharda Municipality-8 is also engaged in goat rearing which is his major business. He got into commercial goat farming by opening Srijanshil Bakhra Farm, and now has 70 goats and kids in a loafing shed.
Bohara has been raising a family of six with the income from this business, and he has also provided jobs to two youths in the village.
The government and other agencies have increased investment and subsidies in commercial animal husbandry, and this has helped farmers to start goat rearing commercially.
According to the Veterinary Hospital and Livestock Service Office, 133 goat farms have been registered in the district. Goat farmer Upadhyaya said his business flourished after traders started coming to the village to purchase goats, and meat prices rose in the market.
Demand for goats shoots up during the Dashain festival. Around 10,000 goats are sold daily in Kathmandu Valley from the first day of Dashain to the eighth day, according to the records of the Department of Livestock Services. Total sales during the festival come to around 100,000 animals.
The goats sold in the Valley are brought from Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Rolpa, Rukum, Mustang, Salyan, Pyuthan, Kailali, Jhapa, Morang, Panchthar, Bara and Khotang, among other districts.
According to the Department of Customs, the country imported 13,827 live goats worth Rs107.88 million from India in the last fiscal year 2020-21. In fiscal 2019-20, imports reached 10,292 goats from India and Australia valued at Rs122 million.
There were 580,000 local and advanced breed goats in Salyan as of last year. This year the number has reached nearly 600,000, as per the Livestock Service Office.
Last year, the office issued grants to 75 farmers to build modern sheds for their animals. The statistics of the office show that the district produces Rs700 million worth of goats annually.
Suresh Gahamgar, 45, of Kalche, who has been engaged in goat rearing for seven years, said that the business has given him self-respect and satisfaction. He started goat rearing by buying nine goats in 2013, and now he has 108 goats and kids.
"There is no problem in feeding the goats as there is a forest nearby, and we cultivate grasses that have been grown in the fields," he said. "On the basis of phone calls, traders come to the home to buy goats," he added.
Ruplal Pariyar, a trader of Bangadkupinde Municipality, was able to sell goats worth around Rs10 million after the lockdown last year. "Until five years ago, the business was only subsistence-oriented," he said.
"Now the number of commercial goat farmers has increased in the villages." The price of goat meat, which was Rs700 per kg last year, has gone up to Rs800 this year.
Kapil Prasad Upadhyaya, chief of the Veterinary Hospital and Livestock Service Office, said that about 1,000 farmers in the district were engaged in commercial goat rearing. "The goat rearing business has improved the income of many families," he said.
Salyan district alone supplied 42,800 goats worth Rs640 million last year. The animals are shipped to major cities of the country like Kathmandu, Narayanghat, Butwal and Nepalgunj.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, the country used to import up to 600,000 goats annually, and now this figure has been slashed by 97 percent.
The import of goats plunged due to Covid-19 related restrictions, as per experts. It also reflects a drop in imports during the Dashain festival when a large number of the animals are slaughtered. Last year, the celebrations were subdued, consequently demand fell, they said.
Based on current market prices, Nepal's annual meat, egg, fish and milk output is valued at Rs450 billion, as per the ministry. The country produces meat worth Rs275 billion, milk worth Rs122 billion, fish worth Rs37 billion and eggs worth Rs17 billion per year.