Why poverty gets our goat


In the harsh, scrubby landscapes of Tigray in northern Ethiopia, Abrahet’s goats are a lifeline.

Set against a dramatic mountainous background, many women and especially widows in Tigray struggle to produce enough to feed their families. Land here is scarce, many farm sizes are very small, and the dry, infertile soil is an inhospitable environment for crop production.

The majority of the population produce less than half their annual minimal food requirements. The area has been under increased pressure this year in the wake of this year’s drought, the worst in Ethiopia for 50 years.

For women like Abrahet, goats are a valuable asset, as they are well adapted to the dusty environment and provide her with a reliable source of income in a region where 85% of the population live below the poverty line.

Farm Africa is an international charity that works with local communities to find long-term solutions to poverty that work in a local context. So in the northern province of Tigray, we’re working with women and young people who don’t own any land, providing them with goats and the training to look after them. And once the goats reach maturity, three kids are given to another member of the farming group, so that the benefits ripple through the whole community.

But this is just one example of the work that Farm Africa has done over the past 30 years. And for the last five years, we’ve partnered with leading names in the global food industry on our Food for Good campaign, raising over £1.5 million and bringing chefs, suppliers and restaurants together to stand with Africa’s farmers.

At this year’s The Restaurant Show, we’ve partnered with James Whetlor, founder of Cabrito, a leading supplier of goat meat. Farm Africa and Cabrito share a commitment to sustainable farming, and Cabrito has done a huge amount to prevent the waste of thousands of billy goats each year. And this month James is running #Goatober in the UK – a month-long celebration of goat meat, where participating restaurants put a goat dish in pride of place on their menus.

Cabrito is one of many organisations within the food industry working with Farm Africa. Earlier this year, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal raised £5,000 for Farm Africa in just two months as part of our Dine for Good campaign, where diners are asked to add a small donation to their bill. Dine for Good is an easy way for restaurants to show their commitment to sustainable food production, and leading restaurants across the world are helping to support our work with women like Abrahet in Tigray.

Because working together, the global food and hospitality industry can make a real contribution to the fight against poverty and hunger in eastern Africa. And for Abrahet, those three goats really have transformed her life – with her increased income she’s been able to feed her family, buy medicines and pay school costs for her children, so that they can all look forward to a brighter future.