The effects of increased crop production on livestock investments in a semi-arid area: some examples from Baringo district, Kenya
Little, Peter D.
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The paper addresses the major premise of the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) program in Kenya which states that increased crop production in the semi-arid areas will lead to a reduction in livestock numbers since dependence on livestock for subsistence needs will be reduced. Theoretical support for this position derives from a "school of thought" in pastoral studies which posits that indigenous livestock production systems in Eastern Africa are maintained mainly for the purpose of supplying a steady source of food (i.e., pastoral products) for the pastoral population. Evidence from Njemps Location, Baringo District suggests that while increased crop production has substituted grain for pastoral products in the diet, it has not undermined the role of livestock as a form of investment. It is further argued that a focus on "statistical" averages in livestock holdings, rather than the range and variation in property ownership, informs development planners little about which group or groups of livestock owners will respond to increased opportunities for agriculture. Capital and labour requirements for irrigated agriculture in Njemps are such that the wealthier livestock owners are the individuals which are most capable of taking advantage of crop production opportunities. The dilemma in Njemps Location arises due to the fact that groups of livestock owners are responding to irrigated agriculture for different reasons: the rich pastoralists are investing in agriculture as a mechanism for supporting their livestock holdings, while the poorer families are being forced into agriculture out of necessity to meet subsistence needs and these latter households have only a minimal impact on the livestock sector. Because of this second group of households it is argued that crop production, especially low cost methods of dry land farming, should be encouraged in Njemps Location, but should not be perceived as a mechanism for supporting range management programs.