Modern and mobile. The future of livestock production in Africa's drylands
This book is about the critical role mobile livestock keeping plays in the economic prosperity of Africa’s drylands. Across East and West Africa, an estimated 50 million livestock producers support their families, their communities, and a massive meat, skins and hides industry based on animals that are fed solely on natural dryland pastures. Where other land use systems are failing in the face of global climate change, mobile livestock keeping, or pastoralism, is generating huge national and regional economic benefits.
Prevalent perceptions about pastoralists are that they are a minority of people who practice an archaic and outmoded lifestyle. But even though pastoralists often inhabit harsh remote regions, they are fully integrated with wider global processes.
Pastoralism relies on unique production strategies, with the ability to move being the most crucial. Moving is now becoming a serious problem. Grazing lands are being taken over for other uses, and access to water and markets is increasingly difficult and the economic profitability of livestock keeping is being critically undermined. Animals are producing less meat, less milk and are more susceptible to drought and disease. Poverty, resource degradation and conflict are increasing.
New thinking, new policies and innovative practices for pastoralist mobility are beginning to take root in many parts of dryland Africa. The African Union and other regional institutions are recognising the huge benefits to be reaped from supporting livestock mobility. This is encouraging several African governments to develop informed, progressive policies that reflect the needs of modern pastoralism. These governments are likely to benefit from the projected growth in demand for livestock products as well as reduce their poverty and secure food supplies.
Livestock mobility is a modern approach to poverty alleviation and accelerated development. Supporting mobility does not require huge financial investment: it requires refreshed thinking and clearer understanding. This book is a starting point.