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Learning AgriCultures - Insights from sustainable small-scale farming

by ruchita last modified Dec 31, 2013 04:00 PM

Jan 18, 2012

"Livestock systems" is the fourth module in a series of seven modules on sustainable small-scale farming, the others focusing on soil and water systems, cropping systems, labour and energy in farming, markets and finance for small-scale farmers and knowledge for small-scale farming.

With the objective of stimulating a culture of learning about sustainable small-scale farming, through questions, and a variety of educational resources, this module seeks to engage people in discussions about small-scale livestock systems - both sedentary and pastoralist. There is currently an inherent bias against small-scale or backyard livestock systems, and particularly against smallholder pastoralist systems. Research, extension, conservation, infrastructure and markets, breeding development programmes and in many cases, subsidies, currently favour high-output large-scale livestock systems which are leading to the gradual disappearance of valuable local breeds, knowledge and ecosystems.

While the current global trend of livestock production (and policy support) focuses on maximizing the production of food and fiber, small-scale livestock keepers value animals for other functions as well. Livestock provide inputs that can increase soil fertility and the productivity of cropping systems, they are sources of power and transportation and, in some places, play an important cultural role and provide the family with insurance in case of emergencies. Local breeds have been developed to meet these many varied functions and to be resilient in often harsh and varying local conditions, traits which may become more important if climate change predictions prove correct. This module discusses all these issues and more, to stimulate greater appreciation of the valuable contribution of small-scale livestock systems to sustain ecosystems and livelihoods around the world.

The module can be downloaded from:


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