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Goat Power – Pita and Sura’s story

 “I am hopeful the goats will help my family survive the bad times ahead.”

Ethiopian farmer Pita Argama used to struggle to provide for her four children. Together with her husband and her two young daughters, she rears cattle and farms maize and sorghum.

However, unreliable rainy seasons in Ethiopia’s South Omo region have taken their toll on yields and the family’s income. Determined to help her family escape poverty, Pita sought to develop an alternative source of income for her family, selling goats, chickens and eggs.

Farm Africa has supported Pita to develop her goat-rearing enterprise through its Livestock for livelihoods project, funded by UK aid from the UK government and Jersey Overseas Aid. A year ago, the organisation gave her three pregnant goats in a revolving scheme; after receiving three goats, every woman passes on three goat kids to a fellow woman in the village. Farm Africa then trains the women on goat and financial management, feeding and nutrition so they can successfully develop their business.

Appreciating the social and economic benefits of keeping goats, Pita takes great pride in looking after her herd.

“First of all, I feed my goats with protein-rich forage to get them fat; in return, I make more money from selling them. With the income I earn, I feel safe in paying medical fees in case my children get sick, I wouldn’t beg anyone for money to afford my family’s expenses.

 “Owning goats also means respect in my society. It is an honour to host esteemed guests with goat meat, in our tradition it’s a way of expressing your love for your guests. I wouldn’t be ashamed or bothered if someone big and respected from the community visits my family.”

Goats are also an important source of nutrition for Pita’s family.

 “I love drinking goat milk but the challenge is with the low amount I have at the moment, for this reason I only give goat milk to my children and the goat kids. It has been three months since my three goats have given birth, I don’t want to use their milk for household consumption because the baby goats need it. I leave it to the goat kids until they turn to six months and then if I have enough milk left, I drink it. If not, I only give it to my children.”

Pita has given some of her goat kids to her friend Sura Doima, a widowed mother of five, who is also taking part in the Farm Africa project. Sura hopes to use the money from goats to invest in other livestock to help her agricultural business.

“My youngest son is ten, he goes to school and I need to feed him with nutritious food to be productive. I hope the goats will help me produce milk for my child and add value to my income"

"I want to do great things with my agriculture business; I need to have oxen to cultivate and improve my yield. I’ve already made my plan with what to do with my profits from goat husbandry, I am thinking of buying a cow to milk and oxen,” Sura told Farm Africa.

Now Pita has fulfilled the requirements of the revolving goat scheme, she, like Sura, intends to focus on developing her business further, breeding goats to expand her herd.

“Since I have repaid and passed on the goats to my friend Sura, I will expand my herd. I will take good care of them referring to my knowledge I got from training by Farm Africa. I hope I will be able to increase my income selling those goats for better prices. I am hopeful the goats will help my family survive the bad times ahead,” Pita said.

Pita and Sura are featured in Farm Africa’s photography exhibition Goat Power, an exploration of the impact of Farm Africa’s Livestock for livelihoods project by international award winning documentary photographer Chris de Bode from Panos Pictures. The free outdoor exhibition will take place throughout the month of October 2020 on More London Riverside, on London’s South Bank.

www.farmafrica.org/goatpower

This project is funded with UK aid from the UK government and Jersey Overseas Aid, however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK or Jersey goverment’s official policies.