Political and macro-economic constraints
frequently limit livestock's potential contribution to improving
rural livelihoods. Understanding these political frameworks
is key to creating successful policies and projects in the
sector. In Senegal, approximately one-third of all households
depend on livestock for some portion of their livelihood.
Yet, the sector has not received significant state or private
investment, nor has it received a significant amount of bi-lateral
and international assistance. Poor producers in the sector
remain relatively unorganised and disadvantaged in the policy-formation
process. Macro-economic forces and the distribution of political
influence focus state attention on the concerns of large-scale
producers and importers of dairy and poultry products rather
than on the concerns of poor producers.
Policy Formation Process
State administrative bodies, which dominate policy formulation
in the livestock sector, unfortunately lack consultative forums
for non-state actors to voice their concerns. Livestock producers
are rarely able to successfully organize to influence policy
formation. Nonetheless, possibilities do exist for improving
producers' representation in the policy-making process and
for advancing pro-poor policies.
In August 2003, a government restructuring resulted in the
creation of a Ministry of Livestock. This innovation offers
opportunities for the institutionalisation of a consultative
body at the level of the ministry in which non-state stakeholders
could voice their opinion on policy matters. Donors involved
in other administrative restructuring, such as the World Bank,
are well situated to use their influence to advocate this
type of organizational innovation.
In addition, independent livestock producers' organizations
are beginning to fill important roles in rural areas; however,
they often lack the funding and organizational capacity necessary
to expand. Offering support for these local-level, independent
organizations may help to rejuvenate organizational capacity
of livestock producers.
Traditionally, livestock producers have had few politically
influential advocates. The unexpected alliance between human
rights organizations, some of the most active public pressure
groups in Senegal today, and livestock producers during l'affaire
du Doli demonstrates the potential for new issue linkages
to strengthen the political position of livestock producers.
Interventions that seek to facilitate these issue linkages
may help to raise public awareness of the difficulties facing
livestock producers and the importance of supporting them.
The Meat Sector
The meat sector in Senegal suffers from unduly high transaction
costs. Livestock producers often have to sell their animals
on credit, as intermediaries cannot pay cash up front; this
limits producers' ability to shop around for the best purchase
price as they must conduct transactions with trusted intermediaries.
In addition, animals pass through a long series of intermediaries,
each requiring a percentage of the final sale value of the
animal, before reaching market. This drives up the final price
while lowering the actual amount the producer receives. Finally,
the sector lacks organizational support and much of its infrastructure
is in disarray.
Considering the current state of the sector, several possible
interventions for improving poor producers position in the
sector exist. Securing credit for intermediaries in the sector
so that they can pay in cash, upfront for livestock at all
points would allow for competition between traders at the
producer level, likely resulting in higher prices for the
animals. Producers could make economic choices based on price,
instead of always concerning themselves with relationships
of trust and regularized exchange. Assisting rural producers
to enter the Dakar market may allow producers to play a more
active role in the market. If they become more implicated
in the urban market this could give them negotiating power
vis-à-vis the state.
The Dairy Sector
Imported milk powder from Europe dominates Senegal's dairy
sector. Local milk production is limited. Distribution systems
are restricted to individual networks of market women and
a few experimental programs. Local producers, excepting urban
intensive producers, are highly unorganized, while powdered
milk importers have much political influence. Political dynamics
in the sector make it almost impossible to directly address
the difficulties posed by powdered milk imports. Nonetheless,
two important interventions in the sector may help local producers
to overcome the negative effects of massive milk importation.
Structural support from non-governmental organizations and
donors can make a difference for local distribution systems.
Supporting and facilitating collection systems in rural areas
around Senegal's secondary cities has been shown to help rural
producers reach urban markets and secure some profits from
milk. Senegalese producers need to be able to take advantage
of the higher value accorded to fresh milk by many consumers.
Currently this is limited by misleading advertising on powdered-milk
based products. If labelling were regulated or if a means
of "branding" local milk products was developed
that would allow consumers to make an educated decision about
the milk products they were buying, local milk products could
gain a competitive edge because of the nutrition and quality
values associated with them. This labelling, branding or certification
does not necessarily have to be undertaken by government.
Respected non-governmental organizations, donor organizations,
or religious organizations might, for example, develop a system
of certifying and labelling local products.
The Poultry Sector
Imported poultry parts increasingly dominate the poultry sector.
As in the dairy sector, those involved in importation have
much political weight making it difficult to address the problem
directly. Instead other interventions must be sought to improve
the position of poor producers in the sector. It may be possible
to work with administrative bodies such as the Direction de
l'Élevage to increase their capacity to impose quality
controls on imported livestock products, particularly assured
maintenance of the cold chain. In addition, local poultry
products could be made more competitive if feed were available
at lower prices. Encouraging research and dissemination of
local alternatives to corn feed is one way to lower feed costs.
In addition, supporting the creation and maintenance of a
nation-wide vaccination and medical provision system might
help local producers to be more competitive.