Using goats in agroforestry systems to enhance food security for subsistence farmers
For thousands of years, goats have played a significant role in the agroforestry systems of people around the world. Their small size, robust nature and ability to eat a wide variety of feeds, from cactus to cardboard, makes them the first choice for millions of subsistence farmers, especially women, to enhance their food security and save for future expenses. Although there are many reasons why farmers choose to raise goats, this paper will focus on the impact goats have on the level of food security for subsistence farmers, and how this impact can be enhanced through the application of agroforestry principals. Such systems include silvopastoral practices, fodder banks, fodder hedgerows, and home gardens. Within these systems, goats, which prefer browse, contribute to food security as they help farmers manage risk, improve nutrition for their families, produce more value-added products and help maintain soil fertility for crops. As cities and farms expand into what was once pasture land, subsistence farmers are challenged to increase livestock productivity without expanding their grazing lands. Agroforestry is uniquely suited to help meet this challenge through the integration of goats and perennials and the production of fodder from multipurpose trees.