One of the interventions in the imGoats project in Mozambique – determined by goat smallholders – is the identification and use of communal pasture areas for goats. In order to assess carrying capacity of the newly identified grazing areas and to better understand the future management plans in the communities,
Yvane Marblé, a student at the Animal Production Systems Group of Wageningen University, conducted her Master of Science thesis research from April to October 2012. The title of her thesis was Creation of communal grazing areas for goats in southern Mozambique: Future perspectives.
The main research question was: What are the future perspectives of the newly designated communal grazing areas for goats in the ImGoats project communities?
Perspectives consisted of two views: a more technical view that focused on the inventory of the pastures’ natural resources and the calculation of their different grazing capacities; and a more social view that involved focus group discussions with goat keepers on their ideas about the future management of the areas. Yvane spent three months in Vilanculos to collect grass samples and conduct focus group discussions with goat keepers in six project communities.
Results showed that the average grazing land was savannah woodland, composed of a vegetation of grasses with shrub/tree coverage of 35%. There were notable differences among the grazing areas, especially in their sizes, which ranged from 265 to more than 5000 hectares. The average primary grass production was 1400 kilograms of dry matter per hectare. Subsequently, there were wide differences for the grazing capacities from less than 400 goats to 23,600 animals per pasture area. From the group discussions, two different themes emerged: natural resources management and labour issues.
Yvane concludes her thesis by discussing the main constraints that could hamper the success of the pastures’ implementation. These limits were identified as herd mobility and water and labour availability. It was therefore recommended that these three topics should be further discussed with the communities and that based on the collected data, pasture management plans could be developed for each project community. The presented results and recommendations will be directly used in the project: CARE and the International Livestock Research Institute are currently developing training modules on communal grazing areas for CARE staff as well as goat keeper groups.