As we prepare for 2017, IGA’s new Board of Directors is planning to make our organization stronger and better equipped to meet the needs of our members. The past four years under the leadership of Dr. Juan Capote brought increased membership, as well as a higher international profile and a renewed dedication to the use of goats to improve the lives of millions of rural poor. IGA produced an exceptional study, Scaling Up Successful Practices for Sustainable Small Ruminant Production for IFAD: http://www.iga-goatworld.com/scaling-upsuccessful-practices.html. We must continue to develop new areas to share IGA expertise.
The recent International Goat Conference in Antalya Turkey was a great success, from excellent presentations and wonderful technical tours to the new friendships and professional collaborations that developed. Again, I want to thank Conference Chair Dr. Irfan Daskiran, the host country committee, and the IGA Scientific Committee led by Dr. Lucia Sepe. The proceedings will become available soon, and a special edition of Small Ruminant Research will feature the best papers and posters.
One key lesson from the ICG in Antalya is that the world of raising goats and making goat-based products is both expanding and becoming more complex. Importantly, goats and their products are no longer associated with poverty in most parts of the world. Products such as cashmere, fine cheeses and meats with “appellation
d'origine contrôlée” are available in many countries and often command premium prices.
Plenary speaker Dr. Nissim Silanikove noted that goats will become more important to food production as climate change decreases productivity in dairy cattle. In most ecosystems, goats will be a buffer because of their greater resistance to heat stress. Therefore, our challenge is to increase our technical capacity to use goats appropriately to respond to the changing climate.
The excellent workshop on “sustainable agro-sylvo-pastoral goat production” also recognized the variety of environments where goats are raised, and the importance of managing pastures, especially with browse to improve both goat production and ecological quality. The lively and insightful discussion illuminated the big picture linking production, feeds & inputs, markets, processing, consumption and government regulation. Sustainability also involves intentional outreach to youth, and deliberate linkages between consumers and producers.
The future of IGA
As goats become more important globally, IGA must expand its role to facilitate interactions between researchers, extension officials, and farmers, as well as policy makers and the private sector. Together we can advocate for sensible policies on production, trade, environmental and consumer protection, and development that benefits those with the least. We can advise on the most promising areas for goat research, and for methods to bring the best technology to producers and processors. IGA must use its collective wisdom and its network of committed goat experts to improve all aspects of goat value chains, and to improve the lives of the men and women who raise goats in less favored settings.
Therefore, IGA is launching the “Goat Consulting Group.” We will develop contracts with clients such as development agencies, government institutions, and private farms or processors to find appropriate consultants from among our members. The client would pay the normal consulting fee and a management fee to IGA. We will send out an email in early 2017 with more information, but if you’re interested, let us know now (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note that the Goat Consulting Group is a separate organization from IGA, but its profits will be used to advance IGA’s efforts.
The call to action
IGA will be encouraging more regional meetings over the next four years. Leading this effort will be our wonderful past-president, Dr. Juan Capote. International meetings are exciting events and provide valuable linkages across continents. However, many people are limited to local, national, or regional events. In addition
to our next International Goat Conference in Eger, Hungary in 2020, we have already approved a regional goat conference in Rajasthan, India for September 2018, and World Goat Day, May 2017 in Iran. Contact us to learn how your goat events can receive IGA sponsorship. Please also send us details of all the goat related events happening in your area, so that we can share them through the website, Facebook, Twitter, and our newsletter.
IGA is able to work internationally because our Country Representatives and Regional Directors have introduced and supported IGA around the world. Learning about goat systems in other places stimulates our thinking for new solutions to our local and global challenges. Some countries still lack IGA representation, so any member in good standing with a commitment to advancing the use of goats can volunteer or nominate a candidate. We encourage you to become a Country Rep by contacting your Regional Director, the IGA Executive Director (Christian De Vries), or me.
Over the next year, we will report on a variety of topics and we hope you will join the discussion. Our first topic is technology for goat management. There are many products on the market. Which is the best for your situation or your clients? We are starting by reviewing software products, and we would like to hear about your experience and recommendations. Even if you are not yet using electronic management, we hope this will be helpful for the future. Future topics may include agro-ecological practices, branding of goat products, or linking producers with consumers. Please let us know what topics are of greatest interest to you.
Finally, we are surveying all our members to find out what you want from your organization. How can IGA better meet your needs? Please go to http://www.iga-goatworld.com/survey.html and share your thoughts about IGA and the future. We need your input as we update our Strategic Plan.
I look forward to serving as your president for the next four years. Together we can enhance IGA’s role as the premier goat organization in the world.
With best wishes for very happy holidays, and both personal and professional success in the coming year,
Dr. Beth A. Miller