Manang (elder sister) Connie never imagined her two pregnant goats will multiply so fast to become 11 goats in just 11 months and become her sustained source of livelihood when the cyclone struck down her coconuts and other crops in 2014. In Guiningayan, Quezon, IIRR is implementing a goat dispersal project that aims to diversify livelihoods for coconut farmers.
In January 2013, Connie joined a small livelihood for support group this project supported through a Strategic Investment Fund. In order to qualify for a goat, farmers had to fulfill a few minimum requirements: establish an intensive feed garden, fence an area where goats can roam freely, and construct a safe goat shed. Farmers also have to sign an agreement with the project to pass on two goats to the next deserving neighbor.
Connie set to work and qualified, and was presented with two pregnant goats in April 2013.With a dose of beginner’s luck one of Connie’s goats gave birth to twin kids just four days after she received her goats. Four months later, the second one delivered a kid, which increased her goat population to five. After a short period of lactation, the two mothers and one of the kids became pregnant and each gave birth to twins, adding six more kids to her goat population. Some of these goats have become her granddaughter, Emiline’s pets.
With five of the young kids now pregnant and with a solid history of twin kidding, Connie is expecting 10 new members to her quickly multiplying family of goats. Soon this lucky elder sister will be proud and prosperous owner of more than 20 goats! Her husband, Nomer, who was skeptical about his wife’s new venture, is now her most enthusiastic supporter. He now even helps care for the goats.
Amidst the apparent madness of such rapid multiplication of livestock, there is sound method. For these farmers, goats’ breeding introduces the concept of diversification, a crucial notion that will help farmers and communities build resilience to natural disasters and the unpredictable effects of climate change. With the requirement to pass on goats to needy neighbors, it also encourages community resource-sharing which is important, as they work together to achieve sustainable livelihoods and better protection against environmental problems brought about by extreme changes in climate.
Connie takes great pleasure in the care of her goats. They are easy to keep and eat grass, weeds and a variety of wild shrubs in the coconut plantation. They don’t require external inputs like medicine or concentrated feeds.
She uses goat manure for her vermiculture and organic vegetable garden. Manang Connie agrees that goat meat is healthier than most other artificially-fattened meat available in the local markets. She can sell some of her goats anytime- they fetch good prices to meet her family practical needs.
Manang Connie keeps an accurate record of her goats on her wooden bedroom window. With a felt-tip marker, she writes the birthdates of her goats. When asked why she writes on her window, she declares, ‘’I can see it all the time”
Connie plans to keep up to 50 goats, after which she will start disposing of some of them. IIRR will be working with Manang Connie as a potential breeder of goats for distribution to other farmers. Goat-raising will provide her a sustained income in addition to her crops, plus the pleasure of caring for nature’s animals which also results in a healthy, happy life for Connie and her family. From being focused only on coconuts 11 months ago, Manang Connie has diversified her farm and also grows pineapples. Her story illustrates that it is possible not only to alleviate household poverty but to bring lasting joy and dignity to the entire family, and the luck gets passed on from a neighbor to another, and another.