National Foundation for Biotechnology Development (NADBIO) and the Venezuelan Department of Agriculture Initiate Program for Caprine Integral Development (PIDEL)
Written by Luis Dickson, IGA Regional Director for South America
Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrícolas - Venezuela
The traditional breeding of goats began in Venezuela a few decades after the colonization by the Spaniards and has survived without many changes since then. The animal used is the Criollo, a very resistant animal that evolved from a mixture of Spanish, African and Canarian breeds introduced more than 200 years ago and that is adapted to the rough semiarid conditions of Venezuela. Breeders also use a very prolific mixture of crosses of Criollo and more recent introduced breeds like French Alpine, Anglo Nubian, Saanen and Majorera.
According to most recent data available (Censo Agrícola, 2007- 2008), goat breeding in Venezuela is an activity that unites about 16,332 goat breeders. This activity has traditionally been carried out in the semiarid regions in the states of Lara, Falcón and Zulia, where approximately 80.3% of a total of 1,057,056 goats are located. Nevertheless, according to an unpublished work (Dickson et al., 2017) the number of traditional goat breeders is rapidly decreasing in some areas by almost 40%. This is due mainly to cattle rustling and depredation by domestic dogs that have become wild, among other reasons.
The decrease in the number of traditional goat breeders is partly compensated by an increase in non-traditional goat breeding units where at least 3,000 new producers have enrolled in the last 10 years. These producing units are not necessarily located in semiarid regions, but are located near big urban centers. This modality is stimulated by the fact that goat and sheep milk, meat and other products are not price regulated, giving this activity a special appeal in a price controlled economy.
Promoting development and sustainability of agricultural activity is probably the main goal of most state funded projects in developing countries over the past 50 years. Despite best intentions, an important part of these projects end up not reaching proposed goals and have little or no impact on producers’ welfare, mainly due to the failure of extension programs.
The need to stop desertion of goat breeders and to increase production of animal protein from non-conventional sources, like sheep and goats, have given rise to the Program for Goat and Sheep Development (PIDEL – Goat and Sheep), which is mainly a training and extension program carried out by the National Foundation for Biotechnology Development (Fundacion NADBIO) financed by the Agriculture Ministry of Venezuela.
This program uses non-conventional methodologies and approaches, some of which are taken and adapted from some existing participative research methodological tools and others that were generated by PIDEL work teams in previous successful research and extension experiences (Dickson et al., 2007), to diagnose and prioritize needs for training and extension to improve productivity and strengthening goat and sheep production.
Experiences show how goat milk production can be raised more than 100% in a community of breeders only by making changes in herd management. These changes come about and remain through the direct training of producers (Dickson, et al., 2007).
PIDEL Goat started in June 2016 and by May 2017 it has enrolled 5,625 goat breeders from 96 communities in 9 states of Venezuela. This represents approximately 34.4% of existing breeders in the country, all of which have been subscribed to a training program that has until now conducted 108 workshops and practical courses. The program is about to start in 3 more states to reach some 7,000 breeders.
The program is also monitoring milk, meat and cheese production to measure the impact on goat and sheep productivity of PIDEL. It is also posting a market observatory on the internet to keep up with price changes which promises to generate a lot of interesting data that will be of great help to government policy makers.
Dickson, L., Salas, J., Ortiz, I., Oropeza, M., Nouel, G., D´Aubeterre, R., Armas, W. and Rincón, J. III Simposio Latinoamericano Sobre la Crianza en Forma Sustentable de Pequeños Rumiantes y Camélidos Suramericanos. Abancay-Perú. Aplicación de Tecnologías para el Mejoramiento de la Productividad y Sustentabilidad en Unidades de Producción Caprinas Tradicionales en Venezuela. 2007.
Dickson, L., Salas, J., D´Aubeterre, R., Morrel, J., and Graterol, I. Informe de análisis de la caracterización de productores del programa Pidel Cabras y Ovejas, Periodo 2016-2017. Fundación Nadbio, La Ensenda, estado Yaracuy, Venezuela. 2017.
VII Censo Agrícola Nacional (2007-2008). Ministerio de Agricultura y Tierras de Venezuela. 2008.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.