Before drought hit northern Kenya in 2016, Dahira Ali, 50, had 300 sheep. By the time the rains broke, though, she had lost 150 because there was not enough fodder on the parched lands to feed them, while the other 150 were too weak to sell. Continue reading
By Glen Engel-Cox on behalf of iDE.
“Now that we know how to do this, we will not let it out of our hands,” says Arra Merry, a traditional pastoralist in Ethiopia’s South Omo region. What has she learned how to do? Grow fodder (and the seeds for fodder) that enhances their ability to feed and fatten their livestock and earn an income in this extremely remote and poor location. In just a few years, Ara and her fodder-producing colleagues have enhanced their traditional way of life by learning how to use the Omo river to address drought through agricultural production. Continue reading
By adopting environmentally-friendly pasture management methods, female dairy farmers can unlock a dormant cattle industry, Jessica Joye writes on behalf of Fintrac.
La Montañita, a small town located in southwest Colombia, is an area rich in biodiversity and home to two of the country’s largest waterways. However, despite these ecological benefits, the region has been plagued by violence, illicit crop production, and rampant deforestation.
Given the region’s long history of cattle ranching, USAID’s Producers to Markets Alliance (PMA) program, implemented by Fintrac, is partnering with the Association for Economic Solidarity of Central and Lower Cagúan (ASOES) to establish Sustainable Pasture Divisions (DSPs) for 565 rural dairy farmers. DSP is an environmentally-friendly pasture management method based on rotational grazing and pasture divisions. Cattle are placed into pens with high-nutrient fodder grass to restrict overfeeding on one particular area of land. The pens are rotated seasonally as new grass is planted and appropriate for grazing. This method helps cattle optimize nutritional benefits from grass and increase milk production while also ensuring other vegetation is safe from overfeeding.
Flor Maria Gutiérrez Laguna is one of 149 women who are becoming leaders in their community by adopting new methodologies such as DSPs. Flor Maria began with 26 hectares of land divided into four lots; working with ASOES and PMA, she put three hectares under the DSP methodology and quickly began to see an increase in milk productivity thanks to improved access to water for her herd, as well as less damage to her pasture from grazing.
Upon seeing these results, she invested more than $1,000 of her own funds to implement DSP practices on the rest of her land. She also invested in a cement structure to elevate her aqueduct and improve her drinking stations, which she installed with PMA assistance. These improvements have saved her up to two hours per day in water collection – time she can now dedicate to other income-generating activities.
The impact of these activities on her quality of life has been significant.
“Thanks to the program, I have doubled my production. Before, I averaged about 25 liters per day with my 15 dairy cows, and now I am selling 50 liters per day,” she says.
“The extra income helped me invest in more materials for my farm, but most importantly, it has helped me pay for my son’s engineering school, a dream that had been put on hold until recently.”
PMA is bringing hope and opportunity to a region previously plagued with violence and illegality, offering new technologies and effective methods of production for Caquetá’s dairy farmers, empowering them to build a sustainable economic path for future generations.
Featured photo credit: Fintrac/Jessica Joye. Flor Maria Gutierrez Laguna is working with Fintrac’s PMA program to implement improved pasture practices for her 15-cow herd. Since adopting these new methods, she’s seen milk production double. She’s investing her additional income into farm and home improvements as well as her family’s education.
In this guest post, FAO Livestock Development Officer Anne Mottet outlines new research that reveals humans and livestock do not compete for earth’s resources as much as previously thought.
We cannot expand the Earth boundaries. Our natural resources are finite. But every day there are more people on the planet, and how to feed them all remains a number one issue.
The livestock sector is often cited as being particularly burdensome on the environment. In addition to the methane gas livestock emits, animals require a lot of nutritious feed. This feed needs to be grown on agricultural land, using water, energy and nutrients. It can be argued that this is an indirect and resource-intensive way of feeding the world. The picture is however more complex.
There is currently no official and complete international database of what livestock consume. This is why FAO explored this issue in a recent study. What are livestock eating and how much animal food is produced with it? Continue reading
The world’s 200 million pastoralists find themselves on the frontline of climate change, contending with extreme temperatures, droughts and scarce resources.
While they face these challenges, they are also well-placed to offer lessons in how to adapt to these new conditions.
At this year’s Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) meeting in Mongolia, two herders shared their experiences of striving for sustainability in livestock-keeping.
“Pastoralism is a very special livelihood,” said Elizabeth Katushabe, from the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa, Uganda. “In Africa, livestock is a key social and economic asset. It’s very important to us.
“It’s the most viable livelihood in these complex and unique eco-systems.”
Elizabeth explained that as a people with an intimate knowledge of the land, pastoralists had important insights into their changing environment.
“Most people think that we move aimlessly. Herders move periodically with their livestock with a purpose – they move in search of these seasonal, scarce resources,” she added.
In many cases, pastoralists make use of land that is unsuitable for growing crops and so would otherwise be useless. It is estimated that two thirds of the world’s arable land cannot be used for cropping.
As well as traditional knowledge of land stewardship and livestock-keeping, Elizabeth explained that pastoralists were also making use of new technology, such as solar power to generate light and allow them to milk cows at night, when temperatures were cooler and flies were sleeping.
A new paper, presented at GASL, highlighted the importance of dairy interventions in poverty reduction, showing increases in household income of up to 600 per cent where cattle ownership or dairy production was improved.
In Mongolia, climate change is contributing to the challenge of maintaining adequate fodder for livestock, with as much as 65 per cent of rangeland now degraded.
“We have been seeing the negative consequences of climate change,” said Tseveenkhuu Buyannemekh, a Mongolian herder from Bogd Soum in Bayankhongor province.
“In the winter, it becomes extremely cold and, in the summer, it’s very hot. It’s difficult to do the hay-making in autumn time because of a lack of grass.
“If we grow some feed in summer time, it will help us generate more income.”
Tseveenkhuu explained that Mongolian herder groups had been agreeing land management plans with local authorities in recent years to help preserve the precious rangeland and improve productivity.
“We have been living for hundreds of years in this nomadic lifestyle,” he added.
“I have received good land from my ancestors and I aim to pass it on to future generations. I have daughters and when they are grown up, I believe they will continue being herders.”More information about the GASL meeting and its priorities is available online.
This is the ninth post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture.
Smallholders in Africa, more than anywhere else in the world, are at the mercy of a changing climate and environmental conditions, which can bring extreme weather and disease.
Only last year this harsh life-lesson was brought home dramatically to Ethel Khundi, 36, when her entire drove of pigs was killed by an outbreak of swine flu that wiped out hundreds of animals in the locality.
“Nearly everyone in the village lost their animals. It was a major setback,” she said.