Farmers rear goats to beat fertiliser costs

The increasing cost of fertiliser has prompted farmers to invest in goats on Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines.

“Goat dung is a good source of fertiliser,” said Darwin Tinasas, a 34-year-old farmer from Davao City in southern Mindanao, who has been raising goats for eight years, initially for meat and milk. Mindanao has a large Muslim population and goat meat is considered Halal food.

With the rising cost of commercial fertiliser in recent years, Tinasas realised other benefits of his goat-raising venture. His stock of about 300 goats provides dung for his four farms in Davao City. He plants rice, and grows pomelo, coconuts, durian and other fruit on 30 hectares.

Tinasas noticed that more and more farmers - fruit growers particularly - started raising goats, not only in Davao City but also in other provinces. “Since fertiliser costs have gone up, more and more farmers are turning to goat-raising,” he told IRIN.

“All dung can be used as fertiliser,” said former agriculture secretary Salvador Escudero. But for Antonio Partoza, chairman of the Minfruit Council, the umbrella group for Mindanao fruit farmers, who had raised chickens and mixed chicken dung with commercial fertiliser, raising goats is more profitable. He has 85 goats on his 15-hectare and 10-hectare farms in Davao City where he grows durian, passion and mangosteen fruits.


''Goat
dung is a good source of fertiliser. Since fertiliser costs have gone
up, more and more farmers are turning to goat-raising.
''

“I must be saving about 30 percent of what I would spend if I used pure commercial fertiliser,” said Partoza. A sack costs US$42. Partoza says he uses about 20 sacks per quarter for his two farms, down from about 30 sacks. That is an estimated $1,680 saving in a year, on top of his profits from the sale of goat milk and meat.

Escudero agreed that goats are extremely economical, particularly for fruit-growers. “Goats are grass-feeders. You don’t need substantial capital to start,” he said.

Unlike chickens, they survive on grass, legumes and beans, which are plentiful on the farms. “It’s just cut and carry,” Partoza said. He only needs to “cut” the branches of his fruit trees and “carry” them to the goats.

The goats help in the pruning trees. “They clear the branches which can then be used as firewood," Tinasas said.

The goat industry in Mindanao is still small. Based on the statistics of the Mindanao Economic Development Council, it produced 29,800 metric tonnes of goat meat in 2006, far less than for pigs (495,083MT) and chicken (242,829MT).

But it is considered a “sunshine industry” in Mindanao, said Ednar Dayanghirang of the Mindanao Business Council. There is a big demand in the local and international market, particularly the Middle East.

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