The food industry is of great importance to the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and their economy. The development of food supply chains in our country’s agricultural system could be one of the keys to higher value-added activities that grow our economy and to the fair income of stakeholders and actors along the chains. If well developed, food supply chains can be a source of much-needed foreign exchange through export-generating and value-added activities. In the food industry, meat is highly essential and plays an important role in human nutrition due to its nutritional properties. Animal-source foods provide high-quality, easily digestible protein that is high in energy and provide easily absorbable and bioavailable micronutrients.
In this context, goat meat is one of the best sources of protein that is still underestimated or ignored in Zimbabwe. Despite the excellent nutritional qualities of goat meat, it is not very present in our food system. This source of protein has been relegated to the margins, but everything suggests that the demand for this healthy meat will increase. With this in mind, understanding the dynamics of the goat meat supply chain is key to unlocking the goat’s contribution to our food system, sector profitability, and potential contribution to the economy. Mapping the structure and processes of the goat supply chain is necessary to identify competitive pressures, key restraints and market opportunities.
At the same time, understanding the goat meat supply chain can ensure consumers can access meat at affordable prices and in a consistent manner that meets food safety standard requirements.
The goat meat value chain begins when the decision to produce goats is made and ends when the meat is consumed by the consumer.
There’s a lot going on between these two points, and the disruptions can vary depending on which stage of the supply chain is affected and how severe they are. The goat meat value chain, i.e. the chain of activities through which a goat passes, gaining added value in the process, has little or no footprint in the country. It is a free-for-all arena with no guides or standards making it difficult for the industry to grow.
Ideally, goats should have a relatively short supply chain that can help increase food security and economic growth in Zimbabwe. But the fact is that the goat meat supply chain in Zimbabwe is very informal, broken, long and expensive. It involves a series of fragmented networks and movements for the production, supply, clearance, slaughter, processing and transport of goats and goat meat products to the final consumer via an abattoir, a butcher, retailer or catering outlet.
A major problem is the location of slaughterhouses in production areas as opposed to consumption areas and the lack of an efficient transport system, which is compounded by a lack of refrigeration. Without refrigeration, the animals must be slaughtered close to the place of consumption.
The development of refrigeration (transport and cold rooms), has a profound improvement on the slaughter and on the distribution of goat meat and allows the slaughter of goats closer to the place of production and the transport of dressed carcasses to the centers of consumption. This can create much-needed jobs in rural areas where most goats come from.
In Zimbabwe, there is currently a lack of a comprehensive and comprehensive information system across the entire goat supply chain that can help understand opportunities, vulnerabilities, bottlenecks and the full ramification of the impacts of disruptions. which may be caused by either a pandemic, epidemic or natural disaster. The main sticking point is that goats have long been considered subsistence animals: around 95% of Zimbabwe’s 4.7 million goats are produced by subsistence farmers.
Using inputs such as land, feed, livestock, capital and equipment, the goat meat supply chain in Zimbabwe begins with a primary production stage which is highly dispersed and lacks professionalism .
Animal production and management are indeed an integral part of the supply chain. Breed management and the ability to access improved genetics or properly manage local genetics for goat meat is critical to the expansion of the goat meat industry in Zimbabwe. Genetic improvements can focus on meat quality and taste, as well as traits and characteristics in animal production.
In this regard, there is a need to improve animal health, nutrition and management expertise as a key first step to building a robust next-generation goat supply chain.
At the primary production stage, kids are born and weaned (goat/kid/kid operation), then reared on a forage diet to gain weight and muscle mass (backgrounding). It is important to understand that disruptions at this stage can prevent consumers from buying goat meat, thus contributing to food insecurity. There are no feedlots where goats can be fattened or finished for the purpose of adding more muscle and intramuscular fat for marketing. It’s a missed opportunity.
Overall, goat producers in Zimbabwe will need to use new technologies and feeding methods to improve the productivity and yield of goats, especially improved or indigenous breeds. Suffice it to say that the organic and natural systems that are a gift from God in our country will need to be maximized for higher monetary gains.
Data on goat supply chain inputs, including land, feed, livestock, and capital and equipment used in goat meat production and processing, is non-existent, derailing the evidence-based decision making. Mapping the supply chain can help producers increase their financial returns and contribute to the economic growth of goat-producing communities. It is important to take advantage of modern cloud applications to improve supply chain visibility and demand forecasting. Cloud-based supply chain management solutions can empower the entire supply chain by connecting partners and enabling mobility, accountability, and proactive response to potential issues.
Networks, key attributes and critical linkage points in the goat value chain need further examination. Cold chain logistics are essential to maintain the food web and support the expansion of market access for a number of supply chain intermediaries. In addition, the road network is essential in this regard to ensure all-weather access to production points.
Suffice to say that the goat sector in Zimbabwe still requires substantial work in order to unblock it so that it can contribute to national economic growth. A private company that will win in the goat sector must lock in the supply chain. There is a need to meaningfully integrate all stages of the value chain, from all aspects of primary production to delivery of the final product.
In conclusion, a system of food safety, quality assurance and goat traceability measures from paddock to fork will serve not only to ensure the integrity of the goat meat industry in Zimbabwe, but also to strengthen its global appeal.
Masimba Biriwasha is Operations Manager at Goat Order Co, www.goatorders.co.zw, a digital start-up with a mission to drive next-generation goat production and value addition in Zimbabwe. He writes on a personal basis. You can reach him at +263774462007