The proposal relates to arid and semi-arid regions of Southern Africa. The rangelands in these areas are fragile ecosystems that suffer from erratic rainfalls and increased human population pressures. The people inhabiting the region practice subsistence crop growing and rely for cash income on their livestock, particularly small ruminants. However,offtake of livestock is low. Limited investigations suggest that improvements in marketing would stimulate sales and encourage the disposal of surplus stock, thus reducing grazing pressures on the rangelands and avoiding over-grazing, as well as contributing to householdeconomies.Theproposed research would investigate production systems for small ruminants, the socio-economic environment within which they operate,and the marketing opportunities available in four countries. The aim of the work is to establish how marketing opportunities for small ruminants influence producer decision-making, changes in offtake, rural incomes and food security. Modelling and practical experimentation will establish how changes in offtake and increased market-awareness by farmers influence small ruminant flock sizes and structures. Modelling activities, supported by data obtained bY a long-term investigation of the effects of stocking density and cattle:small ruminant ratios being carried out in the region, will predict the influence of changes in livestock populations on rangelands plant densities and biodiversity.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
Causeway - Harare