New Publication: The Impact of Graduate Research Grants – Examples from Botswana
When enterprising farmer Eric Galotshoge had the idea of importing a herd of dairy goats and producing goats’ milk to satisfy a burgeoning local market, he thought he was onto a sure thing. As a farmer with an entrepreneurial turn of mind, he did his market research and found that a strong demand existed from local supermarkets, hotels and game lodges for locally produced goats’ milk.
What he did not anticipate, however, was the difficulty of feeding and caring for his herd of 30 British Alpine and Toggenburg goats, imported from South Africa. These highly productive and somewhat high maintenance dairy animals could not simply be left to forage off the land, as the local Tswana goats typically do. They needed to eat lucerne (a forage crop known also as alfalfa), which was not readily available in Botswana. “These exotic breeds didn’t acclimatise well, and all 30 goats died because of disease and lack of feed,” he says.
At the time, Galotshoge was gearing up to collaborate with university researchers who were planning to do experiments on his farm in the hope of discovering how best these highly productive dairy goats, imported from temperate climates, could be helped to thrive in Botswana’s arid climate, particularly as a poverty-alleviation measure for small farmers with few resources. But most of Galotshoge’s goats died before work could begin, due ironically to the very lack of knowledge that researchers were hoping to gain through their on-farm experiments. As an intrepid farmer with resources and business acumen, Galotshoge had as good a chance as most farmers do of capitalising on a promising new idea. But because of critical gaps in his knowledge that could only be supplied by local research, the enterprise failed on his first attempt.
Fortunately, Galotshoge is trying again – and this time he’s collaborating with researchers from the Botswana College of Agriculture, who have been involved in research to support dairy goat farming among small-scale farmers. Touring his farm with Dr Gaolebale Mpapho, a senior lecturer in dairy science, Galotshoge points out facilities that he has designed specifically with small-scale farmers’ needs in mind, such as a small elevated shelter and a milking platform.
The dairy goat initiative is one of three projects from the Botswana College of Agriculture that is being supported by RUFORUM, through its Competitive Research Grants programme to support masters-level training. Click here to read more