Tabaski – an untapped market opportunity for small ruminants in Niger
Tabaski (or Aïd el-Kebir) is an Islamic tradition observed worldwide. An animal is sacrificed as part of the festivities. This year’s festivities in Niger, where 95% of the population is Muslim, has demonstrated how technical assistance days before the event can help farmers tap the increased demand for small ruminants during this time.
To help farmers take advantage of the market conditions during the festivities, the LSIL (Livestock System Innovation Lab)-funded project backstopped them with technical assistance to produce and purchase feed in order to present good quality animals in time for Tabaski. One-ninety-one farmers owning 400 small ruminants (mostly sheep), volunteered to participate. Participant farmers were trained on fattening and animal health (feeding techniques, vaccination, deworming and administration of vitamins). A feed bank was established and managed by farmers to ensure availability of feed throughout the period leading up to Tabaski.
“We used to meet on Thursdays to discuss our issues in livestock production and to find solutions together. Following the meeting, members visited other members to witness different ways of raising animals. That is how I came to realize that what I was doing was wrong. When I have a concern, I share it with other farmers and they give me their perspective. I am getting better in managing sheep since I joined the program. The project has helped us to produce marketable and high value animals,” said Ms Hamsatou Harouni, a farmer based in Torodi.
About 5-10 days before Tabask, which was in August this year, the project investigated potential buyers, mainly from Niamey, the closest big city, and linked them to producers.
This first attempt was a real success for livestock farmers like Ms Harouni. She further said good market prices and savings on transportation costs helped earn more.
“Normally, it is my husband who used to bring my animals to the market. He often did not give me money. Even when he did, he used to give me just around US$ 15 from the sale because I was not aware of the market price of sheep. Now, I am sell my animals. Tabaski is really a big market opportunity for livestock. I sold two sheep, one at US$ 200 and the other at US$ 120. This is an important income that will cover a lot of my family’s costs,” she says.