The Role of Livestock Data in Rural Africa: The Tanzanian Case Study

Kilala livestock market, Eastern Kenya (photo: niti bhan)

Kilala livestock market, Eastern Kenya (photo: niti bhan)

The World Bank finally notices the humble goat, four of which will buy you a new Nokia featurephone in Malawi. Funded by Bill and Melinda, this report takes a closer look at the domesticated animal as a financial instrument and investment vehicle. Here’s a snippet with some points I’ve made bold:

Some of the most revealing findings of the Livestock and Livelihoods in Rural Tanzania study, which is a based on the most recent national survey, are about the contribution of the livestock sector to the economic growth of the country, productivity of the sector itself and gender differences in terms of livestock ownership and access to input and markets.

From an economic standpoint, the data collected indicates that smallholder farmers dominate the Tanzanian agricultural sector and are involved in some form of subsistence agriculture. Furthermore, most rural households report some income generated from livestock activities, earning up to an average of 22% of total household income.  Poor households tend to own smaller livestock, specifically chickens and goats, while wealthier ones tend to own larger animals, especially cattle.

Inputs such as animal fodder and hired labor tend to be scarce among smallholder farmers in Tanzania, while livestock diseases are widespread. Both of these factors hamper productivity of the sector and thus represent a missed opportunity. Data reveals that less than one-third of all family-owned livestock is vaccinated and approximately 60% of all the animals suffer from some type of preventable disease. On the positive side, 25% of the households that own livestock use organic fertilizer for crop production, a practice that if taken to scale can potentially increase overall agricultural production.
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The Tanzania study confirms that investing in smallholder farmers who own livestock in rural Africa is a catalyst for economic growth.

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