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Complexities of Smallholder Livestock Production Systems in SubSaharan Africa: Science and Sustainab


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Title: Complexities of Smallholder Livestock Production Systems in SubSaharan Africa: Science and Sustainab

Complexities of Smallholder Livestock Production
Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa Science and
Sustainable Development CIIFAD 10 October
2007 Dr Aldo Stroebel University of the Free
  • Science and the importance of agricultural
    research in sustainable development
  • Case study
  • Issues of addressing the socio-economic
    complexities of smallholder livestock production
    in SSA
  • Similarities and differences wrt livestock
    policies in Southern and Eastern Africa

Africa would not be able to produce a surplus
above current consumption levels, nor would it
lay the foundation for sustainable development,
if African farmers are not sufficiently empowered
to use productivity techniques of their choice in
producing what they think is profitable (Deng
et al., 1995)
Context (1)
  • Challenge to overcome hunger
  • Africa
  • 30 of the population, mainly women and children,
    suffer from malnutrition
  • 50 of the African population live below the
    poverty line of US1 per day
  • Sub-Saharan Africa 30 of people live in
    absolute poverty
  • Prospects for improvement challenging
  • 85 of countries falling far behind in achieving
    the MDG for nutrition

Context (2)
  • New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD)
  • Priority to agricultural development
  • Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development
    Programme (CAADP)
  • Agricultural research, technology dissemination
    and adoption
  • Requirements
  • enhanced rates of adoption efficient linkages
    (research, extension systems, producers)
  • technology delivery systems innovations to
    farmers and agribusinesses
  • agricultural research systems generate and adapt
    new knowledge and technologies
  • reduce costs and risks adopt new technologies

The extent to which agricultural research has
reduced poverty has become an increasing concern
of policymakers, donors, and researchers. Until
recently, poverty reduction was a secondary goal
of agricultural research. The primary focus was
on increasing food production and reducing food
prices, a strategy that was successful in
increasing the yields of important food staples.
When increased productivity is combined with
increased agricultural employment, lower food
prices, and increased off-farm employment,
agricultural research can be credited with
significant reductions in rural poverty.
Towards an African Green Revolution
  • Kofi Annans challenge to scientists, academics
    and the donor community (2005)
  • Let us create a uniquely African Green
  • Subsequently two African Green Revolution
    Conferences were held in Oslo
  • Catalyst for Action (2006)
  • Public-private partnerships in working towards an
    African Green Revoltion to increase agricultural
    productivity, reduce hunger and to protect the
    environment (2007)

Africa 2008
  • Major issues
  • Apply the core business competencies to reduce
    hunger, thereby addressing MDG 1

(No Transcript)
Major reviews of the literature conclude that
whether technology benefits poor people depends
not on the characteristics of technology per se,
but more so on underlying socio-economic
conditions. (Kerr and Kolavalli, 1999 Hazell
and Haddad, 2001)
Case Study
  • Socio complexities of smallholder, resource-poor
    ruminant livestock production systems in SSA

Introduction to the Study
In South Africa, livestock production is a major
component of rural agriculture. Livestock and its
products (meat and milk) provide food for home
consumption, are sources for
income, represent a form of capital that is
easily converted into cash and provide draft
power and manure. However, in general, the
productivity of these systems is relatively low.
A summary of benefits and products derived from
South Africa study area
Kenya study area
Herd dynamics and productivity measures (1)
  • Herd size summaries

Herd dynamics and productivity measures (2)
  • Herd composition (N 888)

Discussion Herd size and composition
  • The number of cattle owned varied from one to 67,
    with an average of ten (10.3) head of cattle per
    household, of which 68.6 own ten or less head of
    cattle. Cows form the largest part of the herd
  • These findings suggest that male animals (bulls
    and steers) are either sold for cash income, or
    slaughtered for home consumption. According to
    the herd composition, animal traction is not
    regarded as very important. The bull to cow ratio
    is 12.98.

Herd dynamics and productivity measures (3)
  • Efficiency parameters

Discussion Herd mortality and offtake
  • Herd mortality in this study is 15.6. Such a
    high mortality obviously represents a
    considerable loss to farmers constituting twice
    the offtake percentage of 7.8.
  • However, it should be remembered that in most
    cases of cattle deaths, part of, or the entire
    carcass is consumed by the household. This high
    mortality rate could have been aggravated by the
    severe drought experienced during the year of the
    study in this area.

Discussion Herd mortality and offtake (cont.)
  • The low offtake figure of the present study
    (7.8), emphasises the fact that there is a need
    to encourage the communal farmer to increase
    offtake from their herd and to establish an
    appreciation of improved productivity and
    quality, instead of animal numbers only.

Discussion Reproduction
  • The average age at first calving is 34.3 months,
    followed by a calving interval of 24 months, with
    a calving percentage of 49.4 as a result. There
    is no distinct calving and breeding season, which
    is evident from calves being born throughout the
    year with the peak being during the summer
    months, associated with the uni-modal rains
    (December February) in this area.
  • Consequently, two-thirds of cows calve during
    this period. Extended drought periods are common
    to this area and therefore also contribute
    towards the lower reproduction rates. Another
    reason for the longer intercalving period could
    be the fact that only a very small number of
    farmers (2) wean calves.

Discussion Reproduction (cont.)
  • Despite the fact that a large number of farmers
    milk their cows for home consumption, none of
    them indicated that this was the main reason for
    farming with cattle. Herd management,
    particularly milking strategies, may play a role
    in contributing towards the low reproduction
    rate, especially the longer calving interval.
  • Milking strategies of herd owners are guided by a
    complex set of factors such as herd size, family
    subsistence needs and whether there is a market
    for milk. Within the herd, the yield potential of
    cows and the condition of the calves influences
    milking frequency and dairy milk production.

Discussion Reproduction (cont.)
  • Within this study, herd size and cattle wealth
    (number of cattle per person) influences milk
    offtake, since milking is primarily focused on
    household food needs. Thus, the number of cows in
    milk is negatively correlated with milk offtake

Reasons for keeping livestock
  • Some of the respondents provided more than
    one motivation, therefore percentages
  • add up to more than 100

Discussion Main reasons for farming with cattle
  • Despite the fact that a large number of farmers
    milk their cows for home consumption, none of
    them indicated that this was the main reason for
    farming with cattle. Cash-related reasons
    (commercial purposes and school and hospital
    fees) were cited by 68.1 of the farmers as the
    main motivation for farming with cattle, while
    22.7 kept cattle for social prestige.
  • These results indicate that smallholder farmers
    in this region are more commercially-orientated
    than others in South Africa, where capital
    wealth, social prestige, lobola and consumption
    are given as more important reasons for farming
    than cash-related reasons.

Discussion Main reasons for farming with cattle
  • Although social prestige and capital wealth was
    only cited as the third-most important reason for
    keeping cattle, it confirms that there is a
    social-economic status related to the ownership
    of cattle.
  • This is commonly referred to as the cattle
    complex, where cattle are kept for prestige and
    status and not for production.

Discussion Main reasons for farming with cattle
  • The fact that socio-economic status can be
    regarded as being a very useful predictor of
    successful and progressive cattle farming, is
    important in this analysis.
  • This conclusion and the fact that cattle farmers
    had a high socio-economic status in their
    communities, emphasises the relationship of rural
    livestock production to his/her social


Identifying Policy Elements (1)
  • Differences between South Africa and Kenya
  • Incidence and levels of poverty (percentage of
    the population living below US 1 per day) are
    much greater in Kenya than in South Africa (50
    and 24 respectively), which makes the challenge
    of poverty alleviation and food security more
    critical in Kenya
  • The main agro-ecological zones in South Africa
    vary between arid and sub-humid, with the
    predominant area being sub-humid, while those in
    Kenya are predominantly arid with semi-arid and
    sub-humid areas. In both cases, the majority of
    the population live in sub-humid areas
  • A larger area in South Africa (85) is mainly
    suited for livestock production than in Kenya
  • Smallholder intensive dairy production is more
    advanced in Kenya
  • Landless urban and peri-urban production is more
    advanced in Kenya than in South Africa, largely
    because there are more non-agricultural
    employment opportunities in South Africa
  • Systems integrating tree crops and ruminants are
    much more common in Kenya than in South Africa
  • The size and diversity of animal populations are
    much greater in Kenya. Furthermore, the number of
    indigenous breeds within species is larger in
    Kenya than in South Africa

Identifying Policy Elements (2)
  • Similarities between South Africa
    and Kenya

Both Kenya and South Africa are regarded as
leaders in their respective sub-
regions in terms of livestock production,
smallholder development and regional
agricultural research capacity The lack of
integration of farming system approaches and
technology development and transfer in
research is common to the two regions Despite the
interest in urban and peri-urban agriculture,
this sector of the livestock
industries, except for poultry, is relatively
undeveloped in both countries The
integration of animals with annual cropping
systems is common in both
countries Limited use of improved
forages Inadequate socio-economic and policy
research and training focusing on
livestock The need to strengthen research
capacity in the National Agricultural
Research System (NARS)
Spatial integration of the main policy issues
affecting livestock production in Sub-Saharan

Livestock development policy process of South
Final Remarks

Critical Success Factors for Universities
  • Constructive contribution to sustainable
  • Funding - Strategic alliances and partnerships
  • Intellectual capacity - Research
    infrastructure - Leadership - Ownership and
  • Effective monitoring systems
  • Moving beyond the Ivory Tower
  • Engaged Universities