The challenges of research and development of small ruminant production in dry areas
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Luis Iñiguez. (1/6/2011). The challenges of research and development of small ruminant production in dry areas. Small Ruminant Research, 98 (1-3), pp. 12-20.
Small ruminants are key components of smallholder production systems in dry areas and need technological change if farmers are to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. The disparity in income and the living conditions of these producers is alarming, but society, governments, and research and development (R&D) commit little to modify their livelihoods. Prospects for change are good, considering the expanding demand for small ruminant products, but smallholders are not yet benefitting from this opportunity. This paper reviews the status of small ruminant populations in dry areas of Central Asia, the Caucasus, West Asia, North Africa, and some countries of Latin America. Overall the small ruminant population is increasing in these regions. The market opportunities for products of these species are also reviewed. Meat is in high demand all over the countries and demand is often not met by local supply. Milk is produced only in some regions. The prices of wool are depressed whereas fine fibers can reach attractive prices. Smallholder systems could supply the expanding demand but are still unprepared because conditions do not favor technology adoption. The main trends affecting the production systems in dry areas are discussed: enhanced market demand with opportunities and constraints, feed scarcity and climate change. A research strategy is then described, based on the experience gathered by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas and its collaborators, focusing on the improvement of productivity and smallholders’ incomes. Examples of successful experience of adaptive research tested by farmers at a small scale are noted. To achieve sustained improvement of productivity and of farmers’ income, certain basic conditions must be met: the joint action of R&D, within the domain of development projects, through outscaling of technologies; appropriate policies; participatory action, and the mid- to long-term commitment to sustain these conditions by government and donor/funding agencies. South–south and south–north exchanges can facilitate this process. The problems faced by farmers are not insurmountable. With the commitment of all actors involved in the development of a given dry region/country, R&D could induce a change and improve the living conditions of small ruminant farmers and halt rural migration.
- Agricultural Research Knowledge