Mixed farming communal grazing systems are defined as systems where communal grazing areas are the principal feed resource base for livestock, crop residues are grazed and where animals are kept at night on the farm.
The system is mainly found in areas with a low population density in semi-arid sub-humid and mountain areas. It refers to:
Crop farmers keeping livestock are by profession crop farmers. Those referred to under this sub system are farmers who keep livestock in the first place as a saving account for surplus income from crop cultivation and / or other activities. Livestock is kept in village / family herds grazing communal areas. In addition livestock can be used to provide draught power and / or to transfer plant nutrients from crop fields and communal areas to the farm.
Livestock units are often composed changing mixtures of small ruminants (sheep and goats) and / or large ruminants (cattle or camels).
The principal negative environmental aspect of the system is its potential
contribution to overexploitation of communal resources.
The principal positive environment aspect of the system is its potential contribution to sustainable crop cultivation.
In addition it should be noted that this sub system harbours a large share of the worlds genetic bio diversity of domesticated species: poultry, goats, sheep, cattle, buffalo, camels, donkeys, horses, yaks, llama’s, alpaca and other rare species.
Along with population increase and area under cultivation there is an increasing demand for livestock and this system. However, as farmers applying this system have increasingly to compete for the same communal resources with those from the grazing system an increasing number is going over to other mixed farming systems: crop residues, cut and carry, feed from farm, use of external feed. In respect of the exploitation of communal areas, not only livestock farmers but also other users should be encouraged to improve local management of communal resources.
Together with farmers from the grazing system and other mixed farming systems they may make use of same communal resources (pastures and water sources). In general there is a decrease in availability of these resources while there is still an increase in livestock numbers. Consequently the potential of the mixed farming communal grazing system to produce more animal products for an increasing urban demand is very limited and can even be decreasing.
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