Fattening a few sheep and goats in the backyard in mixed crop-livestock systems in western Niger.
Photo: P. Hiernaux

17.11.2014

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Livestock are kept for a wide range of purposes in Africa, and there is considerable diversity in animal husbandry. Among the most important advantages in keeping animals is their contribution to maintaining and even improving soil fertility. Furthermore, animal husbandry offers economic, social and cultural benefits. However, the authors also look at the constraints that smallholders face in livestock husbandry.

Smallholder agriculture in the dry tropics of Africa is highly diversified in terms of farm assets and production systems. The crops include staple such as millet, sorghum, maize and cowpea, also associated with cash crops such as groundnut and cotton. The cropping practices range from hand cultivation to the use of animal traction, with mechanisation remaining exceptional (water pumps, cereal threshing). Family labour predominates and is organised at a range of levels from nuclear to extended family and to community, and is more or less tightly structured by gender and age.

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