Jigawa State empowers women with free goats.

18,000 women are being taken out of poverty in Jigawa State courtesy of a goat multiplication farming programme introduced by Governor Muhammed Badaru Abubakar. The governor is replicating an initiative used by many countries in Africa, Asia and South America to eradicate poverty among women with the Badaru Abukar poverty alleviation scheme to generate forex.

Aishatu Jibrin is a 22-year-old housewife and a beneficiary of the scheme. A mother of four resident in Kudai, a suburb of Dutse, the state capital, Aishatu was a cap knitter.

“I have been knitting since when I was 12 and I have continued even after marriage but the impact on my livelihood and that that of my family has not changed due to exploitation by middlemen”, she stated. According to her, life had been a little cruel and poverty had become a way of life for her and her family.

She explained that although she was making between N500 and N700 per cap and spending two weeks to make one due to domestic chores, the artisanship had not been able to assist her family as she would have hoped. “I therefore always wished to have something that could make my life and that of my family better.”

So when the goat multiplication programme was introduced by the Jigawa government sometime last year, Aishatu struggled to get enrolled and she luckily became one of the beneficiaries.

“I was so happy when my name appeared among pioneer beneficiaries of the scheme and the day I collected my three goats, two she goats and one male, it was the beginning of a dream which I hope will transform my life and that of my family in the next one year”.

Aishatu’s story represents the impoverished condition of women in Jigawa where about 47 per cent of the population of 4.3million, by 2010 estimates, are women. And, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the national poverty indices place the state as the poorest and women as the most vulnerable in the state. It is such women that the goal multiplication programme targets and about 18,000 of them have so far been identified in the 287 wards from the 27 local government areas of Jigawa.

While praising the decision of the state government to introduce the goat multiplication programme, Aishatu hoped other women will be given the opportunity to benefit so as bring as many women as possible out of poverty. Already, Aishatu’s three goats have multiplied and she’s hopeful that, by end of the end year, her backyard will be full of goats.

“My hope is to sell by the end of year so that I can buy many sewing machines and open a fashion business in my village.” Few kilometres away from Aishatu’s village is another beneficiary, Indo Dahiru, a 32-year-old mother of four. She lives in Limawa. Since the commencement of the goat multiplication project, she has become fully occupied with rearing her stock and she finds it even more interesting as they reproduce in earnest.

“When I was given the three goats last year, I was apprehensive that they may die because I had never engaged in goat or animal husbandry before. But as I got used to it, I saw them begin to multiply. I became more attracted and began to pay more attention to them,” she said.

According to Dahiru, the goat multiplication programme has already enabled her to support her husband to take care of the family. “I was never a contributor to the upkeep of the family because I was not involved in any trade or business”, she said. “However, as I became engaged in this project, I can now say, without the fear of being contradicted, that my life and that of my family has changed. “

Her biggest dream is to travel to Mecca to perform hajj in the next three years, using the proceeds of her goats’ husbandry. “My hope is to be able to generate enough from the business and afford to pay for hajj”.

The goat multiplication programme is one of the Jigawa government’s poverty alleviation initiatives captured in the 2016 budget to rid the state of extreme poverty using agriculture. In an interview, Governor Abubakar explained that livestock development is an area his administration targeted to diversify Jigawa’s economy, improve women participation in economic activities and rid the state of extreme poverty especially amongst women.

“Our state has one of the highest levels of poverty especially amongst women and this is something we must stop. The easiest and most effective way is through the goat multiplication programme which we borrowed from Bostwana and South Africa where millions of women were removed out of poverty,” he said.

The governor disclosed that millions of Naira was invested to buy thousands of goats so that, through a revolving scheme, every woman in the state that requires economic independence will be assisted to fulfil her dreams.

“We chose goats because of their high profit in terms of reselling value and capacity and reproductive frequency as well”, he said. According to him, his administration viewed women as a core group that could be used to tackle poverty.

As part of this scheme, one million livestock in the state were vaccinated, the governor’s special assistant on community services, Alhaji Hamza Muhammed Hadejia, said. He explained that the idea behind the scheme was to provide millions of women and youth the opportunity to rid them out of poverty. He said a monitoring mechanism had been put in place to supervise the scheme and ensure sustainability and repayment so that others can benefit.

Under the programme, a marketing plan has been put in place to support the marketing of the goats. “We have set up a committee that is working with the over 18,000 beneficiaries so that the output of the multiplication project will be marketed and sold at optimum profit,” Hadejia said.

Already, the governor’s aide stated, the Saudi Arabian government mass animal purchase scheme is being explored by the committee so that, in the next few years, the beneficiaries will be able to export their goats and also sell locally.

“It is estimated that by end of the year, these 18,000 distributed goats will multiply to over 100,000 and will form a large resources for both the beneficiaries as well as revenue for the state government”, he added.

“In short, millions of people, including the beneficiaries and their families, in few years to come, will be taken out of poverty”.

While the programme attracts wide acceptance amongst women in the state, the opposition described it as a joke and a pointer that the administration has taken Jigawa backward after the former government built an airport that “launched the state into the elite comity of states in the country”.

To this, Governor Abubakar said: “Given the option of a plane ride to Abuja and back from the `wonder airport’ at N50,000 and three goats for N15,000 ,our rural women opted for the latter.”

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