Future opportunities and concerns in smallholder livestock production systems in Africa
Keywords:Livestock production systems, gender, climate Change, Africa
Smallholder livestock production systems continue to play a key role in African agriculture. Although smallholder livestock production systems have had their own share of success, the truth of the matter is that more needs to be done to make them more vibrant, sustainable and reliable. With this in mind, achieving sustainable smallholder livestock production with emphasis on satisfying basic human needs, improving people’s standard of living, enhancing food security and reducing poverty pose a surmountable task in Africa. There are many measures which need to be explored with the aim of making the smallholder livestock systemsbecome driving forces of African economies. Some of the strategic steps that can be adopted for future viable smallholder livestock production systems include and not limited to the following: promotion of gender equality and equity in smallholder livestock production systems, and intensifying activities that support or encourage the utilization of indigenous livestock genetic resources in smallholder livestock production systems. This becomes crucial in the context of climate change and variability.The need to improve the diversity and response capacity of smallholder livestock production systems to enhance resilience is criticalTherefore, it is against this background that livestock species that remarkably possess distinctive qualities enabling them to excel efficiently in the context of the uncertainties of climatic variability need to be promoted to reduce vulnerability in smallholder livestock production systems. The use of adaptive genotypes such as the local animal genetic resources may sustain smallholder livestock production and enhance adaptive capacity of smallholder livestock production systems. The integration of micro livestock into the mainstream smallholder livestock production system also may play a pivotal role in complementing conventional smallholder livestock production systemsin enhancing food security and reducing poverty. Simultaneously, planning for women’s participation does, in fact, improve the likelihood that women contribute to smallholder livestock production and improve livestock productivity. The recognition of the role women play in smallholder livestock production systems is fundamental to agricultural and rural development in Africa. Thus improving the status of women within the household and at the community level would deliver significant improvements to smallholder livestock production systems and food security.
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