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Strategies for sustainable development of animal agriculture
- an FAO perspective

by V.M. Timon


The sustainable development of animal agriculture, across the many different ecoregions or agroecological zones that are found in the developing countries, poses many fundamental challenges; challenges to the primary users of livestock, to their extension, research and support service agents (private- and state-sponsored), to local and regional development authorities, to investment banks, government policy makers and their institutional organs and, in the final analysis, to the consumer or user of animal output. These challenges have been confronted by mankind with varying degrees of intensity since man first captured and domesticated wild animals for use. However, it is only in the past 200 years that what may be described as an industrial approach to animal agriculture became manifest. Over the past 40 years, the United Nations (UNDP and FAO), investment agencies such as the World Bank, and many bilateral and non-governmental organizations, all in consort with national governments, have launched development programmes to promote or effect the advancement of livestock production throughout the developing world. There have been many successes, particularly in pig and poultry production ( Thailand) but, unfortunately, many failures also.

Extensive reviews of livestock investment projects conducted by the World Bank (1985) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB, 1991) paint a gloomy picture of the success of development investment in livestock, particularly in the smallholder sector which farms the vast majority of all livestock in developing countries. This lack of success/impact, in turn, has led to a significant reduction in the amount of investment funds directed to livestock production. Added to this, there is increasing interest in all issues related to the sustainability of agricultural development programmes, including livestock production, not only those factors that may directly effect the environment (e.g. Co2, methane), but also a more thorough scrutiny of development inputs and technologies in terms of longterm practical application and impact. The FAO definition of sustainability1, embracing both dimensions of long-term development impact, provides the basis on which development strategies are discussed in this paper. Clearly there is a need to thoroughly analyze the determinants of sustainability in the context of animal agriculture so as to identify and evaluate effective development strategies.

1 Sustainable development is defined by FAO as “The management and conservation of the natural resource base, and the orientation of technological and institutional change in such a manner as to ensure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for present and future generation. Such sustainable development (in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors) conserves land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, is environmentally nondegrading, technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable.”

Determinants of Sustainability

Effective development planning entails a comprehensive understanding of man's need to advance development, a thorough analysis of the technical, economic and social implications of proposed interventions and finally, an assessment of potential environmental impact (long-and short-term) that may influence local, regional or global conditions. These very generalized determinants of sustainability, as represented in Figure 1, set a framework within which the development planning process must proceed. It is not the purpose of this paper to discuss livestock development planning at this broad level other than to highlight that complex interactions and conflicts of interest can, and very often do, exist among the different components in the development process. The development audiences, i.e., the individual farmer, the extended family or local community and the regional and/or national governments, often have very different perceptions of what development means. Technical interventions may be viable economically, but may not be self-supporting (due to dependence on imports and availability of foreign exchange) and may not be socially acceptable if, for example, they result in increased or conflicting work routines within the farm family. Finally, whereas few farmers in developing countries are acutely concious of the global environmental impact of their actions, they certainly are aware of their local habitats and, generally speaking, respect traditional practices and taboos that condition their farming patterns.

Figure 1. Determinants of Sustainability

Figure 1.

Given the paramount importance of the broad determinants of sustainability as listed in Figure 1, and working on the assumption that these are duly considered in framing the development planning process, the main discussion in this paper focuses on technical strategies for the advancement of animal agriculture. These will be considered in reference to the classically-defined agricultural development resources, viz., animal and land resources, labour, capital and human enterprise. Issues will be discussed in a selective ‘by way of example’ manner, since a thorough discussion of any one issue is deserving of a full paper in itself.


The development of intensive livestock production in industrial countries over the past 30 years has become synonymous with single purpose breed specialization; consequently, Holstein Friesians for milk production and continental beef breeds such as the Charolais, automatically spring to the minds of livestock development planners throughout industrialized Europe, America and Australasia. Unfortunately, some of these people often export their ‘vertical thinking’ into livestock development planning in many developing countries; countries to which specialized, single-purpose breeds are not suited and can rarely adapt to the harsh local environments. Market demand, labour and capital costs, together with land availability, have dictated specialized single-purpose animal production systems in the industrial countries; production efficiency is ultimately measured in terms of shelf price and continuity of a standardized, high quality, animal food product. However, interesting contrasts are found within industrial countries, if, for example, sheep management systems in a land-rich, low population country such as New Zealand, are contrasted with a high population European country such as Britain. In New Zealand, sheep breeding goals are focused on relatively low producing (lambing percentage, 90%-100%), easy-care sheep, where one man can manage approximately 4,000 ewes. In contrast, British lambing percentages in the smaller flocks (200-400 ewes) are targeted at levels approaching 200%.

However, the contrasts in animal breeding objectives between industrial and developing countries are much more stark. Most developing countries exploit the multipurpose use of livestock to produce meat, milk, fibre, draught energy and manure, as depicted in Figure 2. Several livestock development projects have failed to attract committed farmer participation simply because they were targeted on single-purpose milk or meat output and ignored the farmers primary interest in livestock as providers of animal traction or manure (Lensch, 1985). Further, the bioenergetic efficiency of multipurpose livestock production is often overlooked by livestock planners and, consequently, misplaced development objectives are often pursued. In the Ganges delta of Western Bengal, for example, Odend'hal (1980) studied the energy inputs and output of 3,770 cattle on 2,600 smallholder farms which practised a typical Indian village livestock farming system. Total energy output from the livestock system (Kcal/year) as summarized in Table 1, clearly shows that animal manure was a far more important output than milk or meat (calf weight).

This unique example is quoted, not to diminish the general importance of meat and milk in most developing countries, but simply to highlight the need to closely examine how and why farmers use their livestock before deciding on breeding or livestock development objectives in any given situation.

Figure 2. Livestock Development Objectives

Figure 2.
Table 1: Total energy input and outputs in a traditional village cattle system in West Bengal

3.93 × 109
0.56 × 109
0.18 × 109
0.01 × 109
Total output
Total input
4.68 × 109
19.83 × 109


Perusal of the World Bank's analysis of livestock development projects over the past 25 years clearly shows that many projects focused their attention on the genetic improvement or, in some instances, the replacement of the indigenous animal resource. It is now widely accepted that the vast majority of such projects failed, and that projects aimed to promote exotic breed propagation failed miserably. Retrospective analysis of these projects would suggest that the fundamental tenets of effective genetic improvement were not adequately considered when these breed improvement projects were designed. The fundamental conditions that determine the success or failure of genetic improvement programmes are discussed here under four headings:

Relevance of Genetic Improvement

The concept of genetic improvement is attractive. However, reality suggests that improvement of the inherent genetic capacity of any animal population beyond the scope of the nutritional- or diseaselimited environment in which the population lives can be meaningless and is often counter-productive. Reports on several development and investment projects, sponsored by UNDP and the World Bank among others, offer tangible proof of this reality. Retrospective analyses of these projects raise the question of when genetic improvement is relevant and potentially useful. McDowell (1989) and Timon and Baber (1989) argue that it makes little sense to initiate genetic improvement programmes in livestock populations where average annual feed intake is less than 1.5 times the animals maintenance feed requirements; ideally it can be argued that feed intake levels should be twice maintenance. The feed intake levels in question refer to the population targeted for improvement, rather than just a nucleus population on a government breeding farm.

The relevance of genetic improvement programmes must also be judged in reference to the adequacy of the breed improvement infrastructure, not only to service and support genetic evaluation and selection within government-supported farms, but also in reference to the effectiveness of regional and national infrastructures through which the propagation and dissemination of the improved germplasm can reach the farmer. This is often very weak or non-existent in developing countries; the failure to develop efficient artificial insemination (AI) services throughout most of the developing world is just one example of weak infrastructure. However, the most important criteria by which the relevance of breed improvement programmes is determined is farmer acceptability; do the changes brought about by a programme adequately benefit the farmers, in terms of perceived market benefit, investment risk, support service availability and general family welfare.

Breeding Objectives

Most animal breeders and, in particular, breeders of ruminant animals, identify breed improvement with increased levels of market-oriented productivity, be that meat or milk. This rationale has emerged from the more advanced countries where input costs (land, labour, capital or support service costs) in animal production are high. Unfortunately, these same breeding objectives, based on the premise that ‘big is beautiful’, have been exported to many developing country breeding programmes. World Bank (1985) and ADB (1991) project reports provide many examples of failed attempts to achieve ‘instant genetic improvement’ by importing single-purpose high-producing breeds into unsuited environments. In the tropics, for example, selection objectives must identify animals that perform well under heat stress and can cope with the seasonally available feed supply and variation in feed quality. Animals must not be evaluated or selected under better managed high-feeding conditions, which are sometimes developed on government farms or research stations, if these conditions are not typical of the prospective farming systems for which the animals are being bred. The classic experiment carried out by Falconer (1960), albeit with experimental animals, highlights this point. His experiments showed that selection for growth rate on an ad-libitum plane of nutrition increased appetite, whereas selection for growth rate on a restricted diet increased efficiency of feed utilization.

When genetic improvement within a harsh or limiting environment such as in the tropics of West Africa is considered, high output cannot be considered as the sole criterion of the animals' merit. Brody (1945), comparing a range of animal breeds, and indeed animal species, in terms of productivity per unit of metabolic weight, suggested that there were very small differences between big and small animals in net production efficiency. Taylor et al (1985) largely confirmed Brody's thesis in a set of well-controlled experiments with different breeds of cattle. Comparable experimental evidence from small ruminants is not available but the conclusion is unlikely to be different. In other words, big is not necessarily beautiful in the context of net production efficiency.

It is now well established that specialized single-purpose breeding objectives should not be applied to livestock breeding in the difficult environments of developing countries. Indeed, it may well be questioned in the advanced countries at present as food mountains grow, as market buoyancy and prices are under pressure and as product to energy, feed and labour cost ratios continue to decline. The basic question at issue is the biological efficiency of multipurpose breeding to produce meat, milk, fibre (skins) and, where relevant, draught power, as compared with the specialized production of one product. Clearly, in the absence of factual data, it is not possible to generalize on this question but it is important to focus attention on the need for a much more comprehensive evaluation of production objectives when livestock breeding strategies are being determined, and particularly when considering difficult environments where economic and social values are very different from those in the more industrialized countries.

Breeding Strategies and Plans

The fundamental basis of a genetic improvement programme, properly focused, depends on selection intensity, selection accuracy and ‘population reach’; population reach embraces the relevance of selection objectives and the efficacy of the propagation infrastructure within which the improved germplasm is disseminated to the target farmers.

Crossbreeding: As stated earlier, many genetic improvement programmes have, in the past, been based on the importation of exotic germplasm followed by the initiation of crossbreeding programmes in one form or another; the objective being to harness additive genetic variance in upgrading the indigenous population or the exploitation of heterosis in a continous crossbreeding programme. Choice of exotic breed is certainly important, but extensive reviews by Vaccaro (1990) in South America and McDowell (1983) in Asia raise serious questions about the adaptability of all exotic breeds introduced from temperate countries to tropical conditions. Certainly, the proportion of ‘exotic genes’ introduced into indigenous populations is often debated, but the overall benefits of crossbreeding must be seriously assessed and measured, not just on the basis of one trait performance (e.g., lactation yield), but in terms of overall lifetime herd/flock productivity. Measured in these terms, there are few examples of successful and sustained crossbreeding/upgrading programmes in developing countries. The exploitation of heterosis in continuous crossbreeding as opposed to upgrading programmes, is often advocated as a way to rapidly advance animal genetic potential in developing countries. Certainly, there is good evidence of large heterotic effects on some components of animal productivity when exotic temperate and indigenous tropical breeds of cattle are crossbred (Cunningham and Syrstad, 1987). Despite this, and for very understandable reasons, sustained crossbreeding programmes are not evident anywhere in the developing world. The explanation for this has as much or more to do with land use and economics than with genetics. Continuous crossbreeding systems involve three genotypic populations, viz., Breed A and Breed B interbred to produce the crossbred population A × B. In situations where natural mating prevails, this usually requires a sustained economically viable interaction of three sets of farming systems/breeders viz., one set each who breed populations A and B, and a third group who interbreed and farm the A × B crossbred. The sustained integration of three sets of breeders/farmers demands that their respective breeding practices fit to their land resources and compensate them accordingly. Where efficient AI services are available, the basic issue remains the same, except that a sustainable crossbreeding programme with AI demands the complementarity of only two land-use systems instead of three. It is perhaps worth emphasizing that sustainable crossbreeding systems are rare in industrial countries and, indeed, only exist where they ‘biologically fit’ into traditional land use patterns, e.g., a lowland-upland-mountain land-use pattern as exists in Britain. Molecular genetics (cloning coupled with embryo transfer) may offer new opportunities to exploit crossbreeding in the distant future, but in the immediate term (5 to 10 years) it can be argued that attention should be focused on the genetic improvement of indigenous breeds; in other words, selection within the indigenous breed population, if this is feasible.

Indigenous Breed Improvement: The basis on which to determine the genetic merit of an animal and to make accurate selection decisions have long since been established. Equally, the relative accuracies of different forms of selection, be they pedigree selection, performance testing, progeny or other forms of indexed family or combined selection, are well established. The absence of well-documented genetic parameter estimates makes it difficult in most situations to develop reliable selection indices for livestock breeding in developing countries. However, this is not the only point to be considered. In the majority of countries, the infrastructure and support services necessary to collect the records from which accurate genetic rankings can be made, simply do not exist. Allied to this is the even greater problem of the very high level of phenotypic variation usually observed in these populations (Sands and McDowell, 1978, McDowell, 1983). Coefficients of variation for phenotype can range from 30–60%. This unusually big variation exacerbates the problem of estimating the genetic merit of an individual or group of individuals. An ILCA study (Peters, 1985) has shown that very large numbers of animals are required when comparing goat breeds in the tropics. For example, a group size of 700-1,000 animals is required to detect a difference of 5% (one-tailed test, β = 80%) if, as is often the case, the coefficient of variation lies between 35 to 40%. In these medium- to poor-nutritional environments, conventional genetic ranking procedures do not work effectively because of this large variation. McDowell (1983), analyzing cattle records from a number of such environments, concluded that progeny testing, the standard orthodox method of sire evaluation, simply does not work in poor environments. What can be done in these situations? Ironically the lack of a breed infrastructure and this very large variation may be the key to future progress - progress through population screening.

Population Screening: In most breed improvement programmes, within-breed selection is limited to a rather small section of the population - the pedigree or stud breeders. This limits selection pressure, the most important determinant of genetic advance. In most livestock breeds in developing countries a pedigree breed structure does not exist and therefore selection can be considered at the level of the national herd. This may offer an opportunity to change a population genetically that has hitherto been ignored, since;

Finally, it should not be forgotten that the major improvement in animal breeding, particularly affecting growth, body composition and conformation, made by livestock breeders in the last century, was achieved using very simple selection procedures. Breeders such as Robert Bakewell and the Colling brothers made dramatic genetic progress by ‘screening’ local animal populations for better animals as they subjectively assessed them. As a result, they developed the modern European breeds of livestock known today. They exploited the big variation in the then unselected livestock populations with which they worked. Bakewell is quoted as saying “Breed the best to the best and hope for the best”. Since Bakewell's time, the genetics of animal production have become more fully understood and current problems can be approached with much greater scientific resolve and understanding.

To explain and hence attempt to capitalize on the unusually large variation that exists in many of the livestock populations in the developing countries, two hypotheses may be considered:

Evidence to support the first hypothesis partially exists, in that reported estimates of the genetic parameters in livestock populations in developing countries are very similar, if not higher, to those reported for animal populations in the more advanced countries. There is no hard evidence to support the second hypothesis, since it has not been tested, but there is increasing evidence that the screening of national populations may identify major genes. In recent years, at least five examples of major genes have been identified in sheep breeds (Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland and Indonesia) and there are currently indications of a major gene controlling milk protein in a French goat breed (Timon, 1990). In any event, the screening of national populations for ‘exceptional animals’ makes good sense. At worst, it is a means of exercising maximum selection pressure within a population and, of course, it allows the possibility of identifying animals that are carriers of important major genes.

In the difficult environmental conditions which predominate in many developing countries, the question of how to screen large populations in the absence of national recording schemes arises. The only solution to this is to follow the same approach as the pioneer breeders of the last century. The initial screening should be done subjectively; in other words, the breeders are asked to identify ‘exceptional animals’, if any, in their herds or flocks. These ‘exceptional animals’ should then be recorded on the farm and compared with a random sample of contemporaries. If their performance approaches or exceeds twice the average level of the herd or flock, then those animals should be acquired, purchased or leased, for more controlled evaluation and breeding on a central test farm or research station. In this way, an open nucleus herd or flock can be established to act as a source of improver stock for the genetic improvement of the target population.

Screening Target: It is deliberately suggested that the selection target is pitched very high, at or near twice the flock average. Assuming a normal distribution for the trait in question (see Figure 3) and that animals are identified at the very upper end of the distribution, namely three standard deviations (σ) above the mean (μ), it is easy to calculate the resulting selection differentials in terms of the variance or coefficient of variation (cv). If a selection differential (i = μ2 - μ1) is obtained that is equal to or greater than three standard deviations above the mean (i ≥ 3 σ = 3μ1 × cv) then it can be calculated that ‘exceptional animals’ may be defined as being 100 to 200% above average, since the cv ranges from 30 to 70%. If, on the other hand, a major gene or block of linked genes is segregating in the herd at low frequencies individual animals outside this range may be found. A simulation study of the possible effects of the Booroola gene in the Australian Merino and a specially selected (national screening) sheep flock in Ireland, has shown that coefficients of variation and repeatabilities in these flocks can be very high (60–70%) as a result of the expression of a major gene (Piper and Hanrahan, personal communication).

Figure 3. Selection Intensity Scope


Figure 3.

Examples of successful screening have been reported in Ireland and Britain. In Ireland, the national sheep flock was screened for ewes displaying exceptional litter size, i.e., 3, 4 or more lambs/ewe (Timon 1964). The open nucleus flock which was then established had an average litter size of 2.3 lambs/ewe as compared to 1.3 in the national flock. Analysis of litter size distribution and repeatability estimates in this flock suggests the presence of a major gene or block of genes controlling ovulation rate. The Javanese Thin Tailed sheep (JTT) is also showing clear evidence of the existence of a major gene controlling ovulation rate (Bradford, Subandruja and Iniquez, 1986). This latter example is cited as evidence that major genes may and have been found in livestock populations living in harsh environmental conditions.

Screening of Awassi Ewes for Milk Yield: Following the logic outlined above, FAO initiated a preliminary programme to test the efficacy of genetic screening (GS) in conjunction with the establishment of Open Nucleus Breeding Scheme (GS/ONBS), as stage one in the genetic improvement of livestock breeds in developing countries. The initial programme was targeted at the genetic improvement of Awassi Sheep for milk production. Pilot projects were initiated in Turkey, Syria and Jordan. In each project, the aim was to screen as many ewes in the national population as realistically possible; the screening was based on subjective assessment (based on interviewing the flock owner) followed by selective validation (measuring the milk yield of ewes claimed to be exceptional in controlled comparison with randomly selected contemporaries). Following this protocol, approximately 100,000 Awassi ewes were screened in Turkey, in a cooperative project with the University of Çukurova. Based on on-farm validation (two successive milk yield records), a total of 43 ewes were purchased and recorded in their following lactation alongside a control flock purchased (at random) from the screened population. The results, as shown in Table 2, show that the screened animals outmilked the controls by nearly 40%. This initial response provides very encouraging, albeit tentative evidence that genetic screening for milk yield may point the way forward in the genetic improvement of Awassi sheep; the screening is being continued each year to build up an Open Nucleus Flock, which will ultimately provide improver rams for the industry. Similar screening projects aimed at improving body weight in Djallonke sheep in West Africa (The Gambia, Guinea) have been initiated.

Lactation Yield (kg)
310  7.7223 9.3+39
Lactation Length (days)
2061.7187 4.4+10
Maximum Daily Yield
2.7 0.12.1 0.1+29
No. of Animals4343 

Genetic Improvement Capacity

Very often development planners recommend a breed development programme, which, while technically justified, is without adequate emphasis on and evaluation of the capacity and commitment of the different ‘actors’ in the breed development chain. Two issues are paramount here: that livestock breed development is a long-term problem requiring, at a minimum, a 20-year commitment; and that breed improvement cannot have any meaningful relevance if it does not compensate the farmer and the other participants in the breed improvement process over a sustainable timeframe and, to this end, research personnel, extension staff and support services (e.g. AI) must play strong and consistent roles to support effective breed development and farmer participation. Further, long-term government policy and its impact on the development environment will also condition breed improvement possibilities. Consistency and coherence across all the areas in the breed improvement process, broadly determine genetic improvement capacity; all links in the chain are important to the final outcome.


The livestock feed resource base within any given land-use farming pattern determines animal productivity; conversely, the land-use pattern sets bounds on the role(s) of livestock within the farming system. The challenge to livestock development planning is to strike acceptable and sustainable balances between these sometimes conflicting interests. The diversity of issues, edaphic, biological, socioeconomic and cultural, that ultimately determine the accepted (traditional) farming system in any given region is very great and far beyond the scope of this paper. Only a few selected comments will be made here. Given the agroecological diversity of animal feed resources across the developing world, coupled with the variety of projects and past efforts to improve feed resources, the most that will be attempted is to discuss some general strategies on which livestock feed resources development and utilization might be more effectively based.

Land use

The still rapidly expanding human population in most of the developing world, which is projected to increase from 4 to 7 billion by 2025, continues to focus attention on land use, not only to meet the populations' staple food but also their living space requirements. The trends to urbanization across sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia/North Africa, Asia and Latin America suggest that 54, 75, 56 and 84%, respectively, of the populations on these continents will live in cities by the year 2025 (Winrock, 1992). Both of these fundamental demographic forces demand the attention of livestock planners now and towards the future. They dictate and emphasis on land-use efficiency in which the synergisms of soil, plant and animal interactions must be fully exploited. Coupled to this, concerns to conserve the natural resource base and to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other environmentally damaging impacts, will further add to the complexities of livestock development planning. Bioenergetic efficiency must become the keystone of livestock farming systems in the future. Inevitably, this means integrated crop-livestock systems throughout the tropics and subtropics. Certainly, in the low rainfall (<200 mm/year) rangelands, or in the high altitude alpine pastoral systems, crop livestock interactions will not be strongly evident, but in these environments avoidance of rangeland degradation through overstocking will be of paramount importance. Quite distinct but ultimately compatible short and long-term strategies are required.

Traditional feed resources: In the short term, the development of feed resources to raise ruminant livestock productivity throughout most of the developing world must be based on better use of traditional feeds. Generalizations are difficult to make across the diversity of production systems and their very different feed crops. However, the first step in all systems must be to tackle critical nutritional deficiencies, be they mineral-, protein- or energy-limiting. In extremely difficult conditions, this may simply mean strategic supplementation of the diets of selected poorly thriving animals in order to reduce mortality. At another stage it will mean improving feed utilization through: the treatment of by-product feeds (ammonia, urea); diet supplementation with balanced highenergy feeds, (urea/molasses blocks, etc.), coupled with the feeding of by-pass protein. The underlying strategy being to build on the existing system and introduce simple and practical technologies to suit local conditions. Parallel to improvement in the feeding regime, due attention must be given to the major prevailing animal disease challenges. In the first instance, this will usually call for parasite control (internal and external parasites) coupled with vaccination against specific diseases as necessary.

New Feed Technologies: In the longer term, adequately supported by ongoing and future research, greater emphasis will need to be focused on the development and utilization of high biomass feed resources (e.g. sugar cane, cassava) for monogastric and ruminant livestock, coupled with better exploitation of high protein forage trees. Expansion of livestock production in the tropics in the future will demand technologies that enable the ruminant to better utilize high fibre feeds, e.g. rumen flora manipulation to improve digestion of cellulose. Coupled with these changes, livestock planners in the future are likely to have to place much greater emphasis on multipurpose farming systems in which integrated livestock, food and tree crop production maximizes photosynthetic capture to produce food (plant and animal), fibre, energy and fuelwood while maintaining soil fertility and overall sustainability within the system. Examples of such integrated systems are already being developed to exploit the high biomass potential of the tropics (Preston and Murgueito, 1992). In other areas of the tropics, the more extensive exploitation of integrated rice, fish, azolla and livestock production is being researched (Mukherjee, 1992) in order to develop bioenergetically-efficient production systems to meet food needs in land-scarce countries such as China and South Asia.


Technical strategies for the advancement of animal agriculture constitute just one vector in the overall matrix of effects that determine the ultimate impact and sustainability of development effort. To place them in their proper context, it is useful to represent the development planning process as an algebraic function of the major determinant vectors. For sustainable livestock development, these vectors will encompass: market demand for animal product or use, ai; market/animal use channels and pricing arrangements, bi; land and animal resource potentials and interactions, ci; practical technical interventions and transfer impacts, di; natural resource sustainability and environmental impacts, ei; and the major human components of the development process, fi. This last category ranges from farmer initiative and welfare to the efficiencies of the major government and private support service personnel involved in research, training, extension, market regulation, provision of capital and the formulation and implementation of government policy; these parameters of human endeavour might be conveniently termed the ‘development force’. The challenge, inherent in the development of strategies for the sustainable advancement of animal agriculture, is to fully comprehend the direct (additive) and interactive (non-additive) effects of these different determinant vectors. They are represented in algebraic terms in the following equation, although it is fully understood that it is not possible to emperically formulate such an equation.

Modeling and maximum likelihood iterative procedures can help to establish the relative importance (B) of each determinant vector on sustainable livestock development (SLD). Approached in this way, livestock development planning requires an interactive approach in which a number of development scenarios are identified; the interpretation of the outcomes will demand coordinated interdisciplinary analyses involving economists, sociologists, production scientists (land and animal) and environmental impact physics and chemistry. It is beyond the scope of this paper to critically analyze all the elements of each of the seven determinant vectors identified above. Selective brief comments will be made on two factors in the ‘development force’ vector in that they relate to issues that are most often ignored.

Farmer Initiative/Welfare: Many development programmes are based on the ‘perceived’ needs of the target farmers; the word ‘perceived’ is generally used by planners to indicate a full understanding of what the farmer needs! Farmer needs, like those of any other sector, are a function of tradition, education, and day-to-day survival demands normally influenced by the aspirations of the individuals, the extended family and the local community. Increasingly, farming systems research and extension (FSR/E) approaches are attempting to put real perceptions on these needs; the livestock development planner must follow suit, essentially by ‘standing in the farmers shoes’ and perceiving development needs and objectives from that position. Concerns for such matters as ‘internal rate of return to investment’, high output production systems and impacts of new technology will have to be transposed on such vital issues as investment risk, demand on work routines and family welfare since these are influenced by local tradition, culture and status in the local community. The development planning task is to marry these very different perceptions in an acceptable and phased development programme. The roles of the extension and other support services (e.g. credit) have a very important role to play in this reorientation/transition process.

Extension/Research Service Efficiency

Most developing countries, particularly in Africa, dramatically expanded their research and extension services over the past twenty years, basically based on World Bank investment loans (Pardey, Roseboom and Anderson, 1989). Yet it is difficult to single out many countries that can be deemed to have effective research and extension services to support the development of livestock production. Several International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) and other studies have identified and articulated many of the reasons why these services have not been successful in supporting change and sustainable advancement. Only two of the many reported constraints on research and extension services in developing countries, discussed in these studies, will be mentioned here; staff motivation and research-extension-support service links. These are often recognized, but are not always given adequate attention by development planners simply because they fall within the realm of national government policy and management capacity.

Staff Motivation: Staff motivation is certainly influenced by training, it can be nurtured or dissipated by management but, in the final analysis, it is heavily dependent on financial reward to the individual. Many research-, extension- or development-oriented projects have experienced great difficulty in harnessing effective commitment from national counterpart staff simply because the staff in question, albeit formally working full time in government service, find it necessary to have a second or sometime a third additional job/activity to earn enough money to support their families. It is unreasonable to accept that development objectives can be realized in such circumstances, although they may be very appropriate in every other way.

Support service efficacy is also heavily dependent on effective professional interaction between public service staff employed by different government departments or agencies. Sadly, it is not uncommon to find situations where apathy, jealousy and sometimes hostility discourage and limit the interactions, exchange of information and cooperation between the different sectors of government support services that are so essential to effective guidance and development of their farmer audiences. The sustainable development of animal agriculture, with its many complex interactions demands that these human initiative issues are fully considered in consort with the other elements in the sustainable development matrix.


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