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Malabari goat comes to the rescue of farmers

By R. Madhavan Nair


KOZHIKODE FEB. 7. The Malabari breed of goats could help farmers in Wayanad to tide over their financial crisis, say experts.

The potential of this breed to generate supplementary income for farmers who are in trouble because of a fall in prices of farm produce has been demonstrated under a project of the Rural Agency for Social and Technological Advancement (Rasta) in Wayanad.

Malabari is a breed of medium-sized goats seen widely in the northern districts. They are known to be well-adapted to the hot humid conditions of the State.

Rasta, an NGO based in Kambalakkad, initiated the Malabari goat programme nearly a year ago with the objective of conserving and popularising goat-rearing as an income-generating activity.

Rasta Director, T.K. Omana, said that goat-rearing was a profitable activity for villagers who were in financial difficulties because of the steep fall in prices of major crops in the district such as coffee and pepper.

Under the project, one Malabari buck is given to a cluster of self-help groups. A voluntary caretaker is assigned to the beneficiary group, which may own around 20-25 does.

The breeding programme helps in increasing the population of Malabari goats.

The project was started in five areas with 125 farmers. By the end of the second year, nearly 300 women in 35 self-help groups were involved in the programme.

The buck is rotated from place to place to check in-breeding. Each owner of a goat keeps a book in which he records details of the breed improvement programme.

Ms. Omana said that it was important to preserve native breeds of livestock such as the Malabari breed rather than go in for exotic breeds, since the latter, often, are not cost-effective in low output production systems of rural areas.

The benefits of the programme are evident. Lakshmi of Arembatta took a loan of Rs. 1,000 for buying a goat. As part of the programme it was bred with a Malabari buck. Now, Ms. Lakshmi has five kids of the Malabari goat breed that are likely to fetch her about Rs. 9,000.

Indira of Vandiyampetta got Rs. 1,800 by selling two six-month-old male kids.

The first generation of kids show nearly 50 per cent characteristics of Malabari goats.

It was often found that only the male kids were sold and the females were maintained for consecutive breeding that would in time yield the pure Malabari breed in that region. The project beneficiaries have not reported any diseases.

And the farmers claim that rearing of Malabari goats was highly profitable when compared to cows since the management cost was much less.

Almost 80 per cent of the households in the area now possess goats and earn a good income. This project of Rasta is supported by Inter-Corporation, New Delhi.

The Malabari goat's colour varies from white to black.

The bucks are generally bearded.

Many females and males have a hanging protuberance from the neck, which is considered a trait of the Malabari breed.

Moreover, the goats breed and grow quite fast.

The Kerala Livestock Development Board's farm at Dhoni has registered an average daily weight gain of 100 g for the young ones until they are six months old.

Fully grown males weigh 30 to 35 kg and the females 25 to 30 kg.

Malabari goats yield less than one kg of milk during peak days and can be milked for four to five months.

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