Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


3. Livestock production systems


Livestock in the Sahel zone
Livestock production in Mali


Livestock in the Sahel zone

As shown in Table 2, the Sahel proper (including the same ecological zone in the Sudan republic) has a total estimated livestock population of over 33 million tropical livestock units (TLU, these being the 'unité de bétail tropical' of francophone authors), each equivalent to 250 kg liveweight. This is over a quarter of the livestock population of tropical Africa (CIPEA, 1981), which suggests that the Sahel is an extremely important region in terms of animal production. Over the past 15 years, the Sahel, previously neglected, has been a focus of world attention, as the 1968-1973 drought clearly showed the vulnerability of this area and the pressing need to solve its development problems. In many parts of the Sahel, livestock are the only means of subsistence, since the extreme variability of the rainfall makes cropping very risky. Combining crop with animal production improves food security. In some areas of the Sahel, cropping would not be possible were it not for the presence of livestock which provide an alternative source of food for the human population when the periodic grain deficits caused by poor rainfall occur. Livestock in the Sahel therefore play a part which is not simply related to mere numbers.

Livestock distribution in the West African Sahel shows a high degree of diversity. In some parts, a clear congruence can be seen between areas of medium-to-high densities of livestock and areas of dense human populations (Figures 11 and 12). This is the case in western and central Senegal and, even more markedly, in the intensive agricultural zone of southern Niger, where intense population pressure and shortage of fallow land forces animals to move north during the cultivation season. However, this correlation does not occur in Burkina Faso or Mali, where there is a relatively high density of animals in the western part of the Niger inundation zone and low densities on the Dogon and Mossi plateaux, where farmers are too poor to invest in animals and do not use cattle for traction. A map of livestock numbers per rural inhabitant (Figure 13) indicates the extent to which the rural population is dependent on pastoral activities, clearly showing the importance of livestock in the north of the region as compared to the south (except for southern Niger and southern Senegal).

The important pastoral areas in Mali are found in the central and northern parts of the country, especially in the two administrative divisions of Nioro du Sahel and Nara (where pastures along the Mauritanian border are used by Moors), the northwest part of the Niger delta (where Fulani animals are grazed) and the Gourma-Rharous, Gao and Menaka divisions (which are part of the Tuareg pastoral zone). Other important pastoral areas are in Niger (notably the Wodabe and Tuareg areas in the west and centre of the country) and in the Dori region of northern Burkina Faso (where both Fulani and Tuareg herds are found).

Livestock production in Mali


Ecological zones
Distribution of people and animals
Production systems
Subsystems in the agropastoral system


Ecological zones

Crop and animal production systems in Mali are influenced primarily by rainfall. The mean annual rainfall isohyets for Mali and the main ecological zones delineated by them are shown in Figure 14. However, the area flooded annually by the Niger river has its own characteristic vegetation and land use. On the basis of rainfall and annual flooding it is possible to define four broad ecological zones.

The arid zone. Dominated by pastoral production, this zone includes all land receiving less than 600 mm annual rainfall (400 mm with 80% probability), but excluding the inundation zone of the Niger. The arid zone includes two major belts. The first consists of those areas receiving less than 200 mm where cropping is not possible and where, north of the 100 mm rainfall isohyet, the vegetation becomes typically Saharan. In the second belt, often termed the northern Sahel and where rainfall is usually between 200 and 400 mm, some rainfed agriculture is practiced but is extremely risky, since the coefficient of variation of annual rainfall is 25 to 35%. Thus defined, the arid zone accounts for well over half the land area of Mali.

Table 2. Distribution of ruminant livestock by species in the Sahel countries.

Country


Camels

Cattle

Sheep

Goats

Total TLU


('000 head)

(TLU)a

('000 head)

(TLU)a

('000 head)

(TLU)a

('000 head)

(TLU)a

Senegal

4

4

2 806

1 964

1 884

188

1 000

100

2 256

Mali

208

208

4 459

3 121

6 067

607

5 757

576

4 112

Burkina Faso

87

87

2 700

1 890

1 800

180

2 700

270

2 427

Niger

330

330

2 995

2 096

2 500

250

6 400

640

3 316

Chad

410

410

4 070

2 849

2 278

228

2 278

228

3 715

Sudan

2 500

2 500

17 300

12 110

17 200

1 720

12 200

1 220

17 550

Total head

3 529


34 330


31 729


30 335


33 776

a TLUs were calculated on the following basis: one camel = 1.0 TLU; one head of cattle = 0.7 TLU; one sheep or goat = 0.1 TLU.
Sources: FAO (1979); CIPEA (1981).

Figure 11. Livestock densities in the Sahel countries.

Figure 12. Human population densities in the Sahel countries.

The semi-arid zone. This area is associated with pastoral and low-potential rainfed crop production and is located approximately between the 600 and 1000 mm isohyets. It includes the southern Sahel and north-Sudanian vegetation zones, extending in a relatively narrow belt across the southern half of the country. Rainfed millet is the main crop, being replaced by sorghum, groundnuts and cotton towards the south. The coefficient of rainfall variation is 20 to 25%.

The subhumid zone. Associated with high-potential rainfed crop production, this zone lies south of the 1000 mm isohyet, covering only the southern fringes of Mali. It includes the southern Sudanian vegetation belt. The higher and more reliable rainfall permits rainfed cultivation of cotton, while sorghum and to a lesser extent maize are the dominant food crops.

The inundation zone of the Niger river. Associated with floodplain grasslands and some farming, this natural region forms a fourth zone where vegetation is strongly influenced by the annual flood. Its extent is coincident with the distribution of Macina sheep (Figure 9). The zone includes the rich grasslands grazed by Fulani pastoralists, areas of traditional cropping, and areas of rice cultivation under semi-controlled irrigation.

Distribution of people and animals

Rural population densities in Mali are given in Figure 12. The pattern shows three main areas. The first is a large area of very sparse settlement (<6 people/km²), roughly equivalent to the pastoral zone with its predominantly livestock-based economy (the 'pure' pastoral production system), but also including the hilly area in the southwest of the country, which is heavily infested with the tsetse fly. The second area has medium to dense settlement (>14 people/km²) and includes: the Dogon Plateau and adjacent areas; Diré, a small district with an extensive irrigation potential resulting from the nearby course of the Niger; all the remaining irrigable areas of the floodplain; the Office du Niger, a controlled irrigation scheme owned and normally managed by the state; and the intensive rainfed agricultural areas of southeast Mali together with the area around Bamako. The remainder of the country constitutes the third area, which has moderate settlements (6-14 people/km²).

Figure 11 shows the density of livestock per km² in TLU. For Mali, the livestock pattern indicates two main areas. The first has low animal density and lies in two different parts of the country: in the pastoral zone where large tracts of land are scarcely used because of lack of water, and in southwest Mali where tsetse flies restrict livestock production. Both correspond with areas of low human settlement. The second area is one of high animal density in the Niger floodplain, corresponding closely with a production system in which pastoralism is associated with irrigated cultivation. This pattern occurs to a lesser extent in the intensive rainfed agricultural areas of extreme southern Mali.

Figure 13. Numbers of TLU per rural inhabitant in the Sahel countries.

Figure 14. Annual rainfall and ecological zones in Mali.

The number of TLU per rural inhabitant is shown in Figure 13, giving an impression of the dependence on livestock or the livestock-based wealth in different parts of the West African Sahel. In the case of Mali, the two highest density categories (i.e. >1.2 TLU/rural inhabitant) correspond closely with the northern pastoral zone and the Niger inundation zone, i.e. with the pure pastoral and floodplain-associated pastoral production systems. The area with the highest ratio of animals to people (4.4 TLU/rural inhabitant) is the Gourma-Rharous district in central Mali. Outside the northern pastoral and inundation zones, livestock numbers per rural inhabitant are much lower, especially in the sparsely inhabited southwestern parts of the country.

If human and livestock densities are compared, it appears that the areas with high numbers of livestock per rural inhabitant are principally in the north and east of the country, whereas those with a high human population are mainly in the south. The two zones scarcely overlap at all, indicating the extent to which agriculture and pastoralism are still separate activities. The exceptions to this situation are the central Malian districts of Mopti, Macina, Diré and Niafunké, all of which are in or near the Niger floodplain and contain both agricultural and pastoral systems.

The areas of high cattle density (Figure 15), containing an average of more than one head of cattle per rural inhabitant, occur in a belt along the southern edge of the pastoral zone: in the Nioro du Sahel and Nara districts along the Mauritanian border; in the Niger floodplain; in the Gourma-Rharous district; and in the Menaka district in the east. This pattern corresponds with the production systems in which pastoralism is associated with either dryland or floodplain cultivation, as well as with the southern fringe of the 'pure' pastoral system.

Figure 15. Number of cattle per rural inhabitant in Mali.

The distribution of sheep and goats per rural inhabitant (Figure 16) is somewhat different. The three highest density areas, containing more than 2.2 sheep or goats per rural inhabitant, form a belt corresponding roughly with the pastoral zone and the 'pure' pastoral production system. Sheep and goats have a more northerly and easterly distribution than cattle, with the highest densities lying in the Gourma-Rharous, Gao, Bourem and Menaka districts. They are much less important in the rest of Mali, especially in the south. With the exception of Macina wool sheep, small ruminants are less numerous in most of the Niger floodplain which is first and foremost a cattle zone.

The estimated distribution of people and livestock by ecological zone in Mali (Table 3) shows that the rural population is concentrated mainly in the semi-arid zone which, although it covers only 16% of the country, contains 45% of its inhabitants. The subhumid zone to the south contains just over one quarter of Mali's rural population, while the arid zone and the Niger river inundation area contain another 15% each.

The arid or pastoral zone contains over 90% of Mali's camels and 43% of its sheep and goats, but only 21% of its cattle. However, it should be remembered that the cattle, sheep and goats from the Niger floodplain also use the rangelands of the pastoral zone for 6 months of the year, as do many cattle from the extensive rainfed agricultural areas farther south. Conversely, animals from the pastoral zone use pastures and crop residues in agricultural areas after the harvest and until the following rainy season.

Table 3 highlights the importance of the semi-arid zone, which contains one third of Mali's cattle and nearly one third of its total TLU, although it is far smaller in area than the arid zone.

Production systems

Two main criteria have been used to define the animal production systems of Mali: the first is the degree of dependence on pastoral products for the gross revenue or food supply of the household or production unit; the second is the particular type of agriculture associated with the livestock system. Other criteria, such as the duration and distance of livestock movement, were considered as less important. While livestock movement may be an important aspect of an animal production system, it is contingent upon the system, often having the effect of diverting attention away from the main criterion, which is the degree of dependence on the animals raised.

Figure 16. Number of goats and sheer per rural inhabitant in Mali.

Somewhat arbitrary limits were set when the degree of dependence on livestock products was classified. A system in which more than 50% of gross revenue (the value of subsistence plus marketed production) or more than 20% of household food energy was directly derived from livestock or livestock-related activities was classified as a pastoral system. One which derived between 10 and 50% of gross revenue from livestock, in other words 50% or more from agriculture, was classed as an agropastoral system. A third system, in which less than 10% of revenue was derived from livestock, might have been classified as 'agricultural' system but lay outside the scope of this study as was a possible fourth 'urban' system. It should also be pointed out that the concept of gross revenue includes the theoretical value of camels or other species as transport animals, and the value of cattle for traction and manure production. An indication of the degree of dependence on livestock in different production systems in Mali and the West African Sahel is given in Table 4.

The two main criteria thus give rise to two major production systems, pastoral and agropastoral, each with a number of subsystems. These subsystems are shown in Table 5, in which the main characteristics of each are listed. Three pastoral subsystems can be identified. The first is a 'pure', mainly camel-based, system in the northern arid zone, characterized by high mobility, and having almost no direct links with agriculture. The second, found in the northern central and northwestern semi-arid areas, is one in which animal production is associated with dryland cropping, with some cultivation and the exchange of manure for stubble grazing. Cattle, goats and sheep are the main species raised. In the third subsystem, specific to the inundation area of the Niger river and its hinterland, animal production is linked with floodplain grazing and farming; cropping is more important here and cattle are the main species raised.

Under agropastoralism, three subsystems can again be identified in which mobility is very low, cropping is the major component, and the main species raised is cattle, often used for draught. In the first of these subsystems, found in the central semi-arid regions, animal production is associated with the rainfed cropping of millet, mostly for subsistence. In the second, found in the 'dead' delta of the Niger, livestock are raised by producers who are under land tenure contract with the Office du Niger irrigation scheme, and the main crop grown is rice. In the third subsystem, located in the southern subhumid zone, animal production is a minor component associated with both cash and subsistence cropping, with millet, sorghum, groundnuts and cotton being the main crops. The technical part of this report deals mainly with the first and second of these agropastoral subsystems.

Table 3. Distribution of people and animals by ecological zone in Mali.

Zone


Area

Rural population

Camels

Cattle

Sheep and goats

TLUa

(km²)

(%)

('000)

(%)

('000 head)

(%)

('000 head)

(%)

('000 head)

(%)

('000)

(%)

Arid zone

856

(70)

815

(15)

164

(91)

939

(21)

3 596

(43)

1 277

(28)

Semi-arid zone

191

(16)

2 355

(43)

15

(8)

1 468

(32)

2 418

(25)

1 380

(31)

Subhumid zone

129

(10)

1 514

(27)

-

-

1 009

(22)

790

(10)

832

(19)

Inner Niger delta

54

(4)

840

(15)

-

-

1 114

(25)

1 439

(18)

993

(22)

Total

1 230

(100)

5 522

(100)

180

(100)

4 530

(100)

8 293

(100)

4 482

(100)

a One camel = 1.0 TLU; one head of cattle = 0.7 TLU; one goat or sheep = 0.1 TLU.

An approximation of the distribution of livestock in the different production systems is given in Table 5. This suggests that 30% of livestock in the semi-arid zone belong to the agropastoral system, while the remaining 70% belong to the pastoral system associated with rainfed cropping. In the arid zone, 50% of the cattle and 70% of the small ruminants are raised under the pure pastoral subsystem, the remainder being associated with the rainfed millet subsystem.

The relative importance of the domestic species found within the systems and subsystems varies considerably. The only exception relates to camels, which are confined almost exclusively to the pure pastoral subsystem in the arid zones al though a few are found in the pastoral/dryland cropping subsystem. However, even in the pastoral system, camels are numerically unimportant compared to cattle or sheep and goats. Because of their size and cash value, cattle certainly constitute the most important species in all the systems, economically if not culturally, and irrespective of whether their role is primarily milk production (as in the pastoral systems), draught power (as in the agropastoral systems), or a combination of these two roles plus meat production where system boundaries are not clear-cut. In the urban system, donkeys would replace cattle, to be followed closely by goats, as the most important species. In terms of TLU, cattle dominate the livestock sector in Mali (Table 3), although the numbers of both sheep and goats are probably considerably and consistently underestimated. Sheep are extremely important in the pastoral system, especially in the northern and floodplain areas. In the agropastoral system, goats are much more important than sheep, at least at the level of the individual producers.

Table 4. Dependence on livestock in different Sahelian production systems.

System, country, ethnic group


Percentage of gross revenue from livestock

Percentage of total kcal consumed

Year


Source



Milk

Meat

Cereals

Pure pastoralism

Mali








Northeastern








Tuareg

99

68

8

24

1971

(1)

Niger








Tuareg

80

51

3

47

1963

(1)


Fulani

96

39

2

58

1963

(1)

Chad








Annakaza

-

48

-

24

1950

(1)

Pastoralism/rainfed cropping

Burkina Faso








Fulani

78

12

3

85

1977

(2)

Niger








Fulani

-

24

2

74

1963

(4)


Tuareg

-

33

2

65

1963

(4)


Tuareg

-

17

3

80

1976/7

(3)

Pastoralism/floodplain farming

Mali








Fulani

57

25

-

75

1958

(5)

Agropastoralism

Mali








Bambara

10

05a

0.8

95

1974/5

(6)

Burkina Faso








Mossi

10

-

-

-

-

(2)

a Probably underestimated.

Sources: (1) Swift (1979a, b); (2) Delgado (1978); (3) Eddy (1979), but kcal values recalculated using 850 kcal/kg for milk and 1450 kcal/kg for meat; (4) Swift (1979a); (5) Swift (1979a) quoting Gallais (1977); (6) IER (1975).

Table 5. Main characteristics of livestock production systems in West Africa.

Characteristic


Pastoral systems

Agropastoral systems

Rice

Associated with rainfed agriculture

Associated with irrigation

Associated with subsistence rainfed agriculture

Associated with irrigation

Associated with cash crop, rainfed agriculture

Contribution of livestock to revenue (%)

95

90

60

25

15

10

Rainfall (mm/year)

<400

300-600

variable

400-800

variable

700-1400

Relations with agriculture

weak

some cultivation, exchange of manure

own fields cultivated

own fields cultivated, animal traction and crop residues are important

Number of TLU/100 ha

0.0-3.9

4.0-17.9

10.0-27.9

4.0-9.9

10.0-17.9

4.0-17.9

Carrying capacity








People

very low

low/medium

high/very high

medium

high

medium


Animals

low

low/medium

medium/high

low/medium

medium/high

medium/high

TLU per persona

0.0-1.6

0.4-1.6

1.2-1.6

0.4-1.2

0.4-1.2

0.4-0.8

Mobility

high, no fixed base

medium, fixed base

high in wet season

low and for short distances during the main cultivation season

Importance in








Mali

high

medium

medium/high

high

high

high


Mauritania

high

low

low/medium

medium

low

low


Niger

high

high

low/medium

medium

low

medium


Senegal

low

low

low/medium

high

low/medium

high


Burkina Faso

low

medium

low

high

low

medium/high

a Range of ratios.

In the agropastoral system and especially in the irrigation and cash crop subsystems, work oxen are an extremely important element in the total livestock holding. Donkeys in these subsystems also play a large, if usually unpublicised, role in providing transport for agricultural products and fuelwood. Horses are of minor importance in all systems, perhaps vested with the only remaining traces of the prestige syndrome once considered to be the principal preoccupation of livestock owners.

Herds are built up by a variety of processes including inheritance, gifts, loan arrangements and natural increase. In the pure pastoral subsystem, some animals may be purchased with the proceeds of caravan trading or with cash from wage labour, often earned outside Mali. In the pastoral/dryland cropping subsystem, some agricultural profits may be reinvested in livestock, as they also are in the floodplain subsystem. In both of the two last-named subsystems women can own considerable numbers of animals, acquired by dowry and from the proceeds of milk sales. In the agropastoral system, work oxen are often acquired through credit facilities arranged with a relevant organization such as the Office du Niger.

Livestock also play a role in savings, the returns from agriculture being diverted to this end in the absence of alternative forms of investment. In fact, there is considerable evidence that rapid changes in ownership are taking place and that these are not only among farmers. The new owners include civil servants, service personnel and merchants as well as agriculturalists who invest large amounts of cash in livestock. This tendency brings with it a rapid increase in the use of salaried herdsmen and the growing acquisition of grazing rights by non-pastoralists, a trend which may well be undesirable from the point of view of an equitable distribution of the country's resources. Integration within the market economy is also increasing, in some cases rapidly, although there is still a wide range of market involvement, from almost wholly subsistence-based production to cropping for cash alone.

Subsystems in the agropastoral system

Table 6 lists some of the main differences between the mines and rice subsystems which might account in large part for performance differences between the two. The rice subsystem appears to have certain advantages over the millet subsystem, which may lead to increased productivity. In the rice subsystem, for instance, the stall-feeding of castrate sheep, known throughout francophone West Africa as the mouton de case system, is much easier owing to the greater availability of crop residues (Kolff and Wilson, 1985). Water is also abundant all the year round, whereas in the mines subsystem it is restricted during the dry season.

Table 6. Management and environmental factors in the millet and rice subsystems in central Mali.

Factor

Millet subsystem

Rice subsystem

Water availability

Restricted in dry season

Abundant all year round

Crop residues

Limited in time, quantity and quality

Longer season of availability (later in dry season) better quality

Dry-season fodder

Very limited, some early browse in hot dry season

Weed regrowth on irrigated fields

Supplementary feeding

Generally not practiced (little surplus cash); salt occasionally provided

Fairly common, especially for sheep: rice bran, legume haulms, leaves of Khaya senegalensis. Work oxen sometimes fed, but supplements are of insufficient quantity and poor quality

Energy expenditure

High in dry season due to long distance to water and sparse food availability

Lower for longer period of time on account of proximity of water and longer growing period


Previous Page Top of Page Next Page