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AgriFoSe2030 Change Stories

New livestock management practices and enhanced extension services contribute to improved health among small-scale goat herds in Laos.


Feeding goats in newly constructed pens in Laos. Photo credit: Anneli Sundin

Smallholder goat farmers in Laos have adopted new goat management practices including approaches to fodder and animal health care. This change is supported by the AgrifoSe2030 project through emphasising knowledge sharing, skills-building, and mentorship. While farmers self-organise into groups to share knowledge, they also receive support from extension service providers.

Goats can provide a valuable source of food and income for smallholder farmers in Laos. With the right animal management techniques together with improved market access, goat-keeping is an opportunity which can enhance the economic sustainability of Lao small-scale goat farmers. Marginalized farmer groups, such as women and young farmers value the food security and income earning opportunities from goat farming due to the comparatively low level of resources and farming experience it requires.

Several development projects in Laos have focused on goat management but have not had successful outcomes. By utilising a participatory approach which included researchers, local communities, local governments, and extension officers, the AgriFoSe2030 project sought to understand the challenges faced by smallholder goat farmers and collaborated with them to identify how new knowledge and improvements in animal management practices could lead to healthier, more valuable goats.

Participatory approach towards building healthier, more valuable goat herds in Laos

Using varied tools including needs assessment, workshops, monthly farm visits by extension officers, consistent animal monitoring, mentorship and demonstration farms, the project has seen a significant improvement in goat farmers’ approaches to managing their herds. These approaches are critical for the provision of contextually relevant extension knowledge and for sustaining the changes in practices being adopted by farmers. The project worked with 129 farmers who are keeping goats in 13 villages in six districts in Vientiane capital and Bolikhamxay province.  All farmers were provided with new knowledge and hands-on skills on sustainable goat farming, including health, feeding, shelter and general animal care. Notably, many farmers have put their new knowledge into action with some growing grass and legumes to improve fodder for feeding the goats. A preliminary survey indicated that that the project has contributed to the improvement of 17 ha of pasture. At the same time, 56 farmers have pooled their resources in their farmers’ group and built goat pens based on the projects’ recommendation to improve shelter for the animals. To improve goat health, participating farmers have committed to provide their animals with mineral blocks, cassava hay and silage. The farmers also vaccinated, dewormed and provided vitamins for approximately 2,722 goats. Consequently, new farmers groups have been established to encourage continuous peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchanges.

Additionally, the capacity of extension officers to support goat farming has been improved. Eleven extension officers from four districts reported improvements in their skills and capacity to provide extension services including how to be a good trainer and knowledge on the best practices for goat farming. They also expressed increased confidence in training farmers to produce mineral blocks, silage and build goat pens.

Impact of stakeholder engagement in sustainable livestock management

The project emphasised multi-stakeholder engagement which included researchers, goat farmers, extension officers at the Department of Agricultural Extension and Cooperatives (DAEC) as well as representatives from the Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office (PAFO) and the District Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO). With close ties between stakeholders and an emphasis on group formation, knowledge exchanges and learning by doing, local ownership is ensured while a viable structure is maintained for extension service provision and knowledge diffusion. This in turn helps in changing long-held yet inefficient animal rearing practices and promoting livelihood sustainability among small-scale goat farmers.

Elisabeth RajalaElisabeth Rajala, DVM, PhD

Challenge leader of Challenge 1
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Veterinary Public Health, SLU
Telephone: +46 18-67 20 36, +46 73-801 33 56
E-mail: Elisabeth.Rajala@slu.se








 Selorm Kobla Kugbega, Dr

 Communications officer AgriFoSe2030
 SEI, Stockholm Environment Institue
 Phone: +46 (0)73- 27 04 306
 E-mail: selorm.kugbega@sei.org

Published: 19 February 2024 - Page editor: agrifose@slu.se