Livestock Production Systems and Environmental Interactions: Producer Response to Climate and Market Changes in the River Njoro Watershed, Kenya
Daniel Kyalo; Muhia Njeri
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Global Livestock CRSP, University of California- Davis
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Abstract: In developing countries, the past two decades have witnessed changes in market structure, climate and demographic characteristics resulting in fast growth in the demand for livestock products and increasing dependence on livestock for sustainable livelihood systems. In response, there have been rapid land use and land cover changes, characterized by expansion of agricultural systems and a decline in farm sizes. As markets change, producers respond through different adaptive capacities. Producers endowed with more livelihood assets: financial, natural, social and physical, are more capable of responding to and benefiting from these changes. This study consisted of two components: characterizing livestock producers in the River Njoro watershed in order to determine the factors that influence the selection of livestock production systems; and assessing the socioeconomic status of producers in the study area, with the objectives of monitoring adaptation based on the following key attributes: livestock stocking rates, feeding systems, herd structure and farm size. Study results identified three primary production systems: Intensive highly diversified and commercial systems; Semi-intensive subsistence systems; and Extensive semi-commercial systems, with an overall trend towards more intensive systems. From the socioeconomic surveys it was found that 30% of producers adapted production systems to increase productivity due to a shortage of pasture, and 15% due to increasing demand for livestock products, while 22% cited changes in land tenure as the critical factor to production system change, drawing attention to land tenure issues in the watershed. When producers gain greater property rights through allocation of title deeds, they are more inclined to invest in long-term livestock structures and engage in more intensive systems, a potentially positive feedback loop for improving livelihoods in the region, given proper management and governance and/or community oversight of production systems.