THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LIVESTOCK SECTOR IN THE IGAD REGION
The importance of the livestock sector in the IGAD region is partly be explained by the fact that the major proportion of the land area in the region is classified as arid (map a), with highly variable rainfall making it unsuitable for crop production. This leaves livestock production as the only viable form of land use. In agro-ecological zones where crop production is possible it is mostly practised in mixed systems with livestock providing important inputs.
Pasture-based livestock production is the dominant land use in the arid zone and in the lower rainfall areas of the semi-arid zone, involving seasonal or annual mobility of livestock in search of pasture over a large area of rangeland. Pastoral production systems can be found at all scales of operation, producing milk, meat, blood, hides and skins and serving as means of transport. Furthermore, livestock serve as a store of wealth, to meet social obligations and to insure against disaster. Livestock products contribute to subsistence directly, via milk and meat for home consumption, and indirectly via sales to generate cash or to barter for cereals and other crops. Mixed systems are found in the sub-humid, humid and highland zones of the IGAD region, and are predominantly subsistence oriented and crop dominated. Livestock species typically kept in mixed farming systems include cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and pigs. Poultry production is ubiquitous in mixed crop-livestock farming systems at family level; most households keeping between 5 and 20 birds, which survive by scavenging and feeding on household waste, and whose diet may be supplemented with grains. Pigs are only found in Uganda and, to a lesser extent, in Kenya where numbers have increased rapidly in the last 15 years. In the rest of the IGAD region pig-raising is not common due to the prevalence of a Muslim population.
Low rainfall variability in the sub-humid zone makes crop production less risky and pastures more productive. A wide variety of crops is grown; the main staple is maize and the main cash crops include tobacco, coffee and cotton. Cattle are mostly kept for ploughing, breeding, milk, farm manure, bridewealth, savings and emergency sale, though their distribution is somewhat limited by the prevalence of tsetse-borne trypanosomiasis.
The small area, low nutritional value of the natural vegetation for livestock, and prevalence of trypanosomiasis makes the humid zone relatively unimportant for mixed farming in the IGAD region.
A favourable climate, relatively moderate disease and pest problems, and high production potential make the highland zone a favourable environment for livestock keeping. Forage production is intensive, and a wide range of vegetation, including cultivated forages, is used for livestock feed. The most common farming systems are smallholder crop-livestock farms. Cattle are kept for ploughing especially in Ethiopia and Kenya, but also for milk, manure, savings, bridewealth and emergency sale. A special feature of the Kenyan, and to a lesser extent other, highland areas is smallholder dairying in mixed crop-livestock systems. Milk production, typically from two or three dairy cows with their offspring, is integrated with the growing of subsistence crops, such as maize, beans, and potatoes and of cash crops including coffee, tea and pyrethrum.