Improving Feed for Increasing Smallholders Income
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The livestock sector presents an important agricultural activity in Tunisia, generating a significant additional income particularly for smallholder farmers and livestock owners with little or no land. Livestock husbandry that is focused on selling red meat is one of the main cash-creating economic activities in rural areas in Tunisia. However, the diagnosis of the red meat value chain reflects the unstable economic environment, especially after the revolution of 2011. The consequent increase in production costs and fluctuations in selling prices directly affect the livelihoods of livestock owners and impede their adaptation to the new context. A main problem within the red meat value chain is insufficient and inappropriate animal feeding leading to low or moderate performances, high rates of abortion and death losses among livestock, especially lambs. This considerably decreases farmer’s margins and their incomes. Despite feeding costs constituting more than 60 percent of the total cost of meat or milk production, forage production is highly related to rainfall and remains very limited and feed is mainly purchased from favorable regions or imported. The situation is further exacerbated by recurrent droughts and associated climate variability.