This project aims to enhance income-generating opportunities for goat raising households in Lao PDR through the development of productive, environmentally sustainable, socially acceptable and gender sensitive production systems accessing high-demand markets in Vietnam.
Goat numbers in Lao PDR have increased dramatically in recent years although population estimates vary greatly. The last Laos Agricultural Census in 2010/11 estimated goat numbers to be 215,600 while current estimates of the current goat population range up to 550,000. Previous research has indicated that up to 90% of goats in some regions of Lao PDR are exported to Vietnam and on average these goats command a price premium of 30% over Vietnamese crossbred goats.
Demand in Vietnam is likely a function of both human population growth of 19% in 2000-2016 and more significantly a 228% increase in GDP per capita over the same period – increasing prosperity is resulting in increases in the consumption of goat meat, which to some extent is seen as a ‘luxury’ meat for special occasions.
High mortality is a major constraint and controlling disease has been identified by farmers as their most important need. Inbreeding depression has also been identified as a major constraint on productivity by Lao counterparts. There is a need to understand the relative role of goats in farming systems and household economics, including any household risks in changing or expanding goat production, and farmer motivations to do so.
- Improved understanding of the role of goats in Lao farming systems, their potential to enhance farming incomes over the long term and any risks associated with this.
- Increased use of measurement, recording and assessment against benchmarks as a tool for farmers and advisors.
- Improved productivity and profitability of goat production systems.
- Clarification of the impact of inbreeding, gastrointestinal nematode infection and other animal health syndromes in limiting productivity in village production systems.
- Understanding of Lao domestic and export goat market chains and the attendant constraints, risks and opportunities.
- Knowledge and understanding of the factors influencing consumer preferences for goats in Vietnam, particularly those that underpin the premium for Lao goat.
- Clearer messaging about market needs and specifications.
- Increased exploitation of market information by project stakeholders to increase profitability, manage risk and for future planning.
- Establishment of a National Learning Alliance in place in Lao PDR continuing to improve knowledge and skills on goat production and marketing and their application.
- Improved knowledge and application of gender sensitive approaches by project participants.
- Increased research and advisory capacity through short term training and postgraduate student support.
Summary of outcomes to date
- 70 smallholders and 4 larger goat farmers have collaborated with the project for the past 2.5 years.
- Baseline data was collected using Mobile Acquired Data software (CommCare) which produced near real-time findings such as:
- Significant contribution of goats to annual household income (17.4%)
- High annual prevalence of lip and mouth lesions (14.5%) and diarrhoea (11.1%)
- High annual kid mortality of 20.3% and annual kidding rates of 182.1%
- Moderate growth rates in young goats of 52.0 g/day
- Low average doe weight of 21.1 kg (mean age 1.7 years)
- Equal involvement by females and males in goat husbandry
- Moderate worm burdens in goats overall (260 eggs per gram of faeces), predominantly Trichostrongylus spp. (73% of larval speciation).
- High demand from Vietnam for 20-25 kg, 1-year old male Lao goats in good body condition
- To meet market demand, key interventions have been designed and facilitated:
- Increase adoption of forage growing and better housing
- Increasing grazing duration from 5-8 h/day to 9 h/day
- Mineral blocks
- Basic disease prevention and veterinary treatments
- Gender issue awareness
- A follow-up, mid-project survey indicated:
- Increase in annual income from goats of 5.6%
- Increased mean goat herd size by at least 1 goat
- Increased number of farmers grazing cultivating forage plots resulting in 48-minute time savings per day in the rainy season
- Reduced prevalence of ‘Orf virus’
- GPS tracking collars engineered and pilot tested in Laos for 3 months
- Four publications in National Journals and 2 conference presentations