How Goat Breeding Empowers Women in Hadeja: Lessons for Other Jigawa Councils

Nine years after the implementation of Jigawa’s multi-million Naira Goat Breeding Micro-Finance Scheme targeting women and persons with disabilities, only Hadeja and three other LGAs thrived – lifting many rural women out of poverty – providing a model to other council areas to replicate similar successes, WikkiTimes reports.   

Nestled in the heart of Dubantu, a community in Hadeja Local Government Area (LGA) in  Jigawa State, is a remarkable tale of socio-economic transformation. Against the backdrop of a worsening trend of poverty, the Jigawa State Government’s Goat Breeding Mircro-Finance Scheme is propelling residents like Fatima Mohammed into a new chapter of economic prosperity.

Fatima’s journey from the clutches of poverty to stability started with being selected to benefit from the goat breeding initiative which became a lifeline for poor rural women like her. She seized the opportunity to break free from the shackles of poverty, strengthening herself economically .

Once grappling with the challenges of poverty in the arid region of Jigawa’s Hadeja, Fatima found the initiative to be a solution turning her into a self-reliant woman at 50. As her goat herd flourished, so did her economic prospects. 

Similarly, the ripple effect of the state’s programme empowered Fatima to invest in education, healthcare, and improved living conditions. 

“My goats have been breeding since the first three – one he-goat and two she goats – that I was given by the Jigawa government about seven years ago and they have become my springboard for financial stability. I sell some at some point to buy food and pay medical bills. 

“I work hard to feed them and ensure they stay healthy through frequent medical check-ups.

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“The initiative also impacted me spiritually because I used one of the goats to offer sacrifice during Eid-el-Kabr festivities,” she told WikkiTimes while pointing at the goats in her compound. 

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Her success not only uplifted her life but also served as a guiding light for others in similar circumstances, showcasing the power of agricultural entrepreneurship in creating lasting positive change.

“Goat breeding has given me a sense of independence. I no longer rely on unpredictable crops; instead, I can count on the steady income from selling goats and their products,” Amina Isah, a 40-year-old resident of Agumau, Hadeja LGA narrated how breeding goats transformed her life. 

Amina started with two she-goats and a he-goats like every other beneficiary of the goat breeding programme and saw her flock grow, providing a sustainable source of income to her. 

She was able to invest in her children’s education and break the jinx of poverty. “I take pride in the fact that my children can attend school without worrying about the financial constraints that held me back. Goat breeding has become a means to secure a brighter future for my family.”

Fatima and Amina’s journeys are a compelling narrative of empowerment through goat breeding, illustrating how a simple but strategic goat breeding empowerment initiative of Jigawa State Government can break the chains of poverty. 

The Goat Breeding Empowerment

In 2015, the Jigawa State Government embarked on a journey towards rural empowerment with the launch of the Goat Breeding Micro-Finance Scheme – a groundbreaking empowerment programme aimed at transforming the lives of rural women, vulnerable individuals, and persons with disabilities. It covers this targeted group in Jigawa’s 27 local government areas. 

The programme which goes beyond traditional agricultural practices; considers 220 women drawn from 11 wards in each local government area to benefit. Each of the beneficiaries received one he-goat and two she-goats with an 18-month payment window. Based on the terms and conditions, every benefiting woman is required to pay back the loan with three goats which will be re-allocated to other women in the same area. 

However, years after the continuous implementation of the project, Hadeja became the first area council to successfully retrieve and reallocate refunded goats to a new set of beneficiaries. WikkiTimes learnt that three other LGAs –  Gwaram, Babura and Gumel LGAs trail Hadeja. 

The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) identified Jigawa as the third most economically disadvantaged state in Nigeria. Nationally, the report reveals a poverty index of 0.257 for Nigeria, indicating that approximately 133 million individuals are experiencing multidimensional poverty. 

In addition, the report further indicates that eight out of 10 people in Jigawa State are multidimensionally poor. Similarly, the state accounts for the highest concentration of multidimensionally poor children in the country.  Women, mostly in rural and semi-urban communities in Jigawa, relying on subsistent agriculture which is already under siege by climate change, form the chunk share of the poorest segment of the population of the state. 

Despite numerous empowerment programmes implemented in Jigawa, a significant challenge persists as many of these initiatives have failed to uplift women from the shackles of poverty. For instance, between 2007-2015, Jigawa established six skills acquisition centres in Birnin Kudu, Dutse, Hadeja, Gumel, Ringim, and Kazaure to provide comprehensive training opportunities for youth and women. Also, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management claimed to have spent N86,400,000 on 4,000 women in Jigawa State during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What Hadeja Did Differently? 

On a windy December 2023 morning, a herd of goats roam Bilkisu Sani’s compound. Moving from one end to another, searching patches of grass, shrubs and leaves. Occasionally, they stop and engage in playful interactions depicting a natural rural setting in Dubantu, Hadeja. 

Bilkisu ensured that her goats stayed healthy, which increased productivity and profitability. 

“I prioritise providing balanced nutrition to my herd, ensuring they get the right mix of vitamins and minerals. Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are non-negotiable. A proactive approach to healthcare minimizes the risk of diseases and maximizes the productivity of the herd,” she told WikkiTimes. 

She added, “I also paid careful attention to the environment where the animals sleep and made sure that it was clean and free from germs.” 

Also, Yan Biyu Hassan, 50, recruited a young man in the neighbourhood to help supply feeds to her herd daily. She said “Managing a herd of goats demands consistency that is why I employed a house help to supply food to my goats daily.  

Yan Biyu’s use of a house help exemplifies not only practicality in goat farming but also a community-centric approach that contributes to the well-being of all relevant stakeholders. 

Narrating to WikkiTimes the strategies that the implementation committee of the Goat Breeding Initiative in Hadeja adopted, Yawale Musa Kawaki, a member of the committee who is also the Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Hadeja, said through a series of strategies, the area was able to demonstrate efficiency in implementing the initiative. 

“Our key strategy revolves around comprehensive training for the beneficiaries on goat management. We ensured that beneficiaries received a thorough education on goat breeding techniques and healthcare practices, and this empowered them with the knowledge needed to foster a thriving goat farming venture.

Some goats at the breeding site of Bilkisu Sani in Hadeja. (Credit: Muhammad Tahir)

“Goat breeding is not just an individual venture; it’s a community effort. We encourage beneficiaries to form support networks, share experiences, and collaborate on various aspects of goat farming. This creates a sense of unity and ensures that the benefits of goat breeding extend beyond individual households, fostering collective prosperity within the community.

“In goat breeding, consistent monitoring is the compass that guides our success. 

“We believe in a hands-on approach. By physically visiting the beneficiaries, assessing the health of the goats, and evaluating the overall conditions, we can address challenges in real-time and offer personalised guidance to the beneficiaries. This level of engagement is essential for the sustained success of the goat breeding program,” he said. 

In line with the tenets of the initiative, Hadeja successfully reallocated the refunded goats to a new set of women to also benefit. All refunded goats were reallocated to the same community. It was a carefully crafted strategy that prioritizes fairness, skilled community collaboration, and ultimately empowering deserving women. 

 Why Others Failed 

In the heart of Gulakoci, Kirikasamma LGA in Jigawa State, a rural abode lay in an open courtyard, a central space where the goats found respite. A makeshift shelter with wooden poles and thatch provided shade for the goats against the scorching sun. However, this rural house in Gilakoci, once a haven for herds of goats, is a shadow of its prosperous past. 

The occupant who gave her name only as Aisha was struck by a tragedy. Her once-thriving goat herd was ruined as she lost six goats to an uncommon adversary – mammary cancer. Aisha, with a heavy heart, told WikkiTimes: “I never imagined that goats could suffer from such an ailment. It was heart-wrenching to witness the gradual decline of my beloved animals, especially since breast cancer is not something we typically associate with goats.”

The empty breeding site of Aisha. (Credit: Muhammad Tahir)

She added, “At first, I noticed changes in their behaviour – lethargy and a lack of interest in feeding. As the weeks passed, lumps appeared in their mammary glands, signalling a severe and silent battle against an adversary I never anticipated.” 

Aisha’s helplessness was palpable as she sought veterinary assistance, but the advanced stage of the cancer proved difficult to cure. Similarly, she has traversed some kilometres to reach the nearest veterinary clinic in Hadeja. 

“Losing six goats to mammary cancer was not just a financial setback; it was an emotional blow. It highlighted the importance of vigilance and regular health checks for my entire herd. I am now more committed than ever to implementing preventative measures to safeguard the well-being of my goats,” she insisted. 

The finding of research has shown that mammary cancer is one of the killer diseases responsible for the death of goats and sheep in Nigeria with about 20 percent. 

It’s a Party Affair

One criticism of the programme is that mostly faithful to the ruling political party in the state, the All Progressive Congress (PC) from the scheme. While this might not be true of every beneficiary, some truth was discovered in the allegation. For example, the Vice Chairman of the APC in Hadeja was discovered to be a member of the implementation committee that selected beneficiaries.

Also, Maikoyi Hussaini, Kirikasamma LGA APC women leader, told our reporter that although the goats given to her died, she was selected based on her being the Women Leader of the ruling party in Jigawa. 

“As the APC Women Leader, my commitment to the party and my community has been recognised through this unique opportunity. The process has been a collaborative effort, reflecting the party’s dedication to empowering its leaders at the grassroots level,” she said.

Maikoyi Hussaini, a beneficiary in Kirikasamma. (Credit: Muhammad Tahir)

Some beneficiaries of the programme also alleged that they were given sick goats which later died before reproducing, hence it was a complete failure to them. Asabe Haladu, a beneficiary In Kaugama LGA, was devastated after discovering that the goats given to her were sick, crippling her chances of getting empowered. 

“I was hopeful that the program would improve my economic conditions, but the goats I received developed sickness shortly. 

“They died of what was confirmed by a local Vet to be Mammary Cancer. I tried hard to save them but could not and since then my lot has not changed,” she said pointing into the vast space of her empty compound. 

Asabe explained that in line with the directives of Kaugama Agric Department, she kept the horns of the goats as evidence to prove that they died. “Yes, they asked us to keep the horns if the goats died,” she emphasised. 

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As some of the beneficiaries grapple with the loss of their goats, the government, on one side, is poised to embark on recovery of the disbursed goats leaving targeted beneficiaries bewildered. 

Zainab Musa, another beneficiary also lost her goats. She told WikkiTimes “I was disappointed to learn that the heartbreaking reality of what was supposed to be a succour to my poverty after all the goats died and have no option to replace them. 

She continued, “It is regrettable that the goats given to me encountered such challenges. The goats were infected with a contagious disease, leading to their untimely demise.”

“The issue is not just about losing the goats to sicknesses but about shattered dreams and broken trust. We call for a thorough investigation into the procurement and distribution process to prevent such incidents in the future.” 

No Waiver For Defaulters 

Yelwa Da’u Tijjani, Senior Special Adviser to Jigawa State Governor on Gender Affairs said no waiver will be given to those who have defaulted on the repayment of their goat breeding loans. She said “Each beneficiary has an 18-month payment window. The goats were not given free. 

 She added, “Accountability is the cornerstone of any successful empowerment initiative, and we must uphold our commitment to sustainable development.

Hajiy Yelwa Da’u Tijjani, SSA Gender Affairs to Jigawa State Governor. (Credit: Zulkiflu Abdullahi)

“It is with a sense of responsibility that I emphasise the importance of honouring our agreements. Those who have benefited from the goat breeding initiative must understand that this is a collective effort for the betterment of our community. 

“No exceptions will be made for those who default on their repayment, as it is crucial to maintain the integrity and longevity of such empowerment programs. The success of our goat breeding initiative hinges on the commitment of each participant. We cannot afford to overlook the importance of repayment. Those who default not only jeopardize their chances of future support but also compromise the overall sustainability of the program. No waiver will be granted; it is time for all beneficiaries to fulfil their obligations,” she told WikkiTimes

 A Replicable Goat Breeding Model 

 “Hadeja’s triumph in the implementation of the goat breeding initiative serves as a blueprint for other local governments seeking similar success,” remarked animal scientist, Muhammed Sani Mu’azu. 

He said the key lies in the meticulous planning and community engagement, adding that  “Hadeja demonstrated the significance of involving local leaders and communities from the inception, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment.”

To him, effective training and education are indispensable components for success. Hadeja prioritized comprehensive training for beneficiaries, equipping them with the necessary skills for goat husbandry. 

“Replicating this approach ensures that individuals are well-prepared to maximize the benefits of the initiative,” he said. 

Mu’azu added that “Hadeja’s success is rooted in a sustainable support system. Continuous monitoring and mentorship throughout the implementation phase contributed to the program’s success. Establishing a robust support network that extends beyond the initial phase is crucial for ensuring the long-term viability of similar initiatives in other local governments.”

He also emphasised that building trust among community members is paramount. Hadeja’s success in the goat breeding initiative was bolstered by transparent communication and community involvement in decision-making. 

This report was done with the support of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, under its Promoting Democratic Governance in Nigeria Project.


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