Domesticated goats originated from wild goats in Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia and have been kept by humans since before 8,000 BC for their meat, milk, skin, hair and manure. They are easier and cheaper to keep than cattle, and therefore a preferred means of helping poor farmers.

The world largest goat stocks are in Asia (60%) followed by Africa (34%), with Western Africa holding about a third of them. In terms of meat production Asia is first with 70% of world production, Africa contributes with 25%, and within it West Africa produces 40% of goat meat. In sub-Saharan Africa Nigeria holds the first place in goat meat production with 25%, then come Sudan with 17%, Ethiopia with 6% and Niger and Kenya each with about 4%. Regional rankings for goat milk are similar the meat rankings, but within Africa, Northern Africa leads in goat milk production with 50%, followed by Eastern and Western Africa with about 23% each. Sudan produces 50% of SSA's goat milk, in further places are Somalia (13%), Niger (9%) and Mali (7%).

Reference to numbers/statistics are from FAOSTAT 2010 for the year 2008

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