Livestock development is an important part of the work that Self Help Africa is doing with smallholder farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
By Ray Jordan* (HuffPost Contributor)
Livestock plays a vital role in the lives of millions of rural poor smallholder farming families in sub-Saharan Africa. The importance of animals to farming fortunes really cannot be overstated.
On small farms all over Africa, animals fulfill a number of roles – providing draft power to plow the land, manure to fertilize the soil, transport to carry goods to market. Animals also supply milk and meat, an essential protein and nutrition source for families.
Indeed, for rural poor families, animals act as a form of ‘on-the-hoof family savings’ – they may also be sold to provide households with funds to cover costs such as children’s education, or when cash is needed for a family event, such as a wedding or funeral.
When we think of animals, we don’t usually think ‘insurance’, but here, livestock is a form of household insurance that may also be sold when harvests fail to produce sufficient food.
When the animals are sold, but there is still no sign of harvest, the situation can turn desperate.
Sadly, this is what I came across on a recent trip to Ethiopia. Farming families that I spoke to here told me, as they coped with the effects of the current East Africa food crisis, that they were now queuing for food aid on a twice-weekly basis because they had long ago cashed in their livestock. Many told of selling their animals to buy food following the crop failures that resulted from the El Nino winds that parched much of this region more than a year ago.
Livestock development is an important part of the work that my organization, Self Help Africa, is doing with smallholder farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
We’re supporting families to rear goats, sheep, pigs and cattle. We’re promoting poultry production, beekeeping and even rabbit and guinea pig breeding as a means of supporting households to supplement their incomes and add nutrition to the household diet.
- Agricultural Productivity Increases Fourfold in 26 Years: MoA
- Forgotten No More: Aid to Fragile States Is a Duty Not an Option
- African Agribusiness Partnerships Driving Growth on the Continent
- The Role of Integrated Agro-industrial Parks in Ethiopia’s Development
- Land Restoration in Ethiopia: ‘This place was abandoned… This is incredible to me’