The impact of wealth on smallstock production and utilization in a pastoral system: Mukogodo Division, Laikipia District, Kenya
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Small ruminants have received very little attention in research and development as they are usually owned by smallholders and pastoralists with little influence and buying power. Moreover, they are often produced for subsistence purposes, their products are rarely marketed, and they are often cared for by women and children. Small stocks in pastoral systems in Africa have been similarly neglected. The paper presents a case study of small stock production in Mukogodo Division, Laikipia District, based on 14 months of fieldwork in the area in 1987/8, Mukogodo producers are poor in comparison with other pastoralists and the proportion of small stock in their flocks is high. Data presented cover both the productive performance of small stock and their utilization by owners. Special attention is given to the influence of wealth on productive performance and on the socioeconomic strategies employed by producers, which are shown to differ considerably. It is maintained that without the knowledge of producer strategies that underlie aggregated figures (e.g. of commercial offtake or mortality), realistic planning and targeting of development interventions is not possible.