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The Pastoralist Sector

Priorities and methodologies need to be suited to the differing national goals and the socio-economic circumstances of the producers. Techniques are available for improving livestock and crop yields and for increased crop residue and forage production. These have to be adapted to the differences between crop, fallow and bush land. Grazing reserves need to be integrated into overall land-use systems and livestock services and credit systems adapted to the needs of suppliers and producers.

Planners should consider the following factors to promote integrated crop/livestock systems in West Africa:

  1. Improvement of livestock productivity.

  2. Improvement of crop productivity.

  3. Research.

  4. Training extension staff.

  5. Land tenure and the integration of crop, fallow and rangeland.

Setting Priorities

There is no common strategy for promoting the transition of pastoralists to integrated crop/livestock systems because of the differences among the countries of West Africa. All that can be done is to review the circumstances in which crop/livestock production can be promoted amongst agropastoralists and then consider the actions appropriate to these circumstances.

Both national and international development agencies have difficulties in setting development priorities. It is often the case that national agencies are disposed towards high technology developments such as ranches and dairy farms, while international agencies would prefer to support evolutionary development of the traditional sector. This has serious consequences because both have overlooked the middle strata of livestock producers. Further, while many situations are unlikely to change quickly, with or without development inputs, the opportunities for applied planning and development are decreasing as a result of haphazard immigration into the subhumid zone. As the change to crop/livestock systems from agropastoralism requires no purchase of stock, uses existing management, is relatively efficient in terms of land use and only requires minor investment in quickly responding seasonal cropping, it would be very competitive with the capital intensive development of pastoralism.

West Africa has had potential settlement areas preserved by tsetse fly infestation, but occupation of these zones cannot be long delayed. Tsetse eradication schemes can be justified as an opportunity to apply optimal land use planning ahead of settlement, rather than for opening up land for settlement per se.

Finding suitable sites for ICL evaluation is relatively easy but care should be taken to ensure that they are representative and accessible to facilitate their use for back up services and as centres for training and demonstration.

Increasing Livestock Production

Increased livestock production must start with improved cattle nutrition. Shortage of cheap supplementary feed means that livestock producers will have to grow their own, but they cannot be expected to master the complexities of supplementary feeding and forage production simultaneously. As a result supplementary feeding needs to be included in the early phases of crop/livestock development programmes to provide a rapport between the extension/research workers and the pastoralists and to produce rapid results in increased milk and calf production. It will demonstrate the advantages of providing scarce feeds only to productive animals and present an opportunity to organize efficient extension services.

Preventive veterinary measures using vaccinations for endemic diseases must be associated with improved feeding regimes which should include anthelmintic dosing of calves.

Increasing Crop Production

Increased crop production should be given priority because it involves both cultivators and agropastoralists and will promote the harmony essential to stimulate forage production; it involves the poorer members of rural society, is relatively simple and produces rapid results. A more subtle reason for raising crop yields at an early stage is that increased crop production can ease the pressure on labour and cash and facilitate the acceptance of new ideas (Delgado, 1978).

Land Tenure and the Integration of Crop, Fallow and Rangeland

Although there is separate responsibility for livestock and agricultural development this does not mean that livestock development should be planned in isolation; management of grazing reserves should reflect overall land use planning Grazing reserve development plans which deal only with production within the reserve will not only isolate the pastoralists but restrict the numbers of pastoralists they can accommodate. There are at least three ways in which grazing reserves could be utilized:

  1. They could be utilized as growing-season retreats to which the herds could be moved when the risk of crop damage is greatest. This would allow more cattle to become resident in arable areas and maximize the use of crop residues and fallow land in adjacent areas throughout the rest of the year. They would contribute to integrated crop/livestock production.

  2. The ability to move livestock in response to environmental pressures is an essential feature of all extensive grazing systems. Grazing reserves that are strategically placed along stock routes could facilitate such movement, thus encouraging pastoralists to settle without fear of containment. They could be used by ‘dry’ herds annually and by whole herds in drought years.

  3. There are some areas uninhabitable by herders for part of the year but which provide excellent grazing at other times; the seasonally flooded confluence of the Dep and Benue rivers is one example. If areas like this are to be designated as grazing reserves provision must be made for the livestock when they cannot be utilized.

The major advantage of these alternative uses for grazing reserves is that they do not isolate nor exclusively favour the pastoral communities. Farmers will appreciate the removal of stock when their crops are most vulnerable without losing the benefits of integrating arable production with pastoralism. Provided the experience gained in establishing grazing reserves and group ranches is used to plan future schemes, these could pave the way for providing agropastoralists with production goals and opportunities other than subsistence cropping and the build-up of herd numbers.

Areas of Spontaneous Settlement

Outside grazing reserves and group ranches the adoption of crop/livestock systems by pastoralists can be considered for three different land types: fallow land, crop land and bush land (Table 17). Each of these offers different opportunities and requires different approaches to integration.




Source: Milligan, 1982.

Fallow Land

Fallow land offers the best and most practical opportunities for significant benefit to both livestock and crop husbandry. The objective of fallow land development by integrated crop/livestock systems should be to improve the rate and extent of soil regeneration for the next cropping phase and, in the meantime, to provide high quality supplementary feed for cattle and small ruminants; in the higher rainfall areas forage legumes can serve both these purposes. The fodder bank concept offers the best prospect for fallow land utilization but the technical and social aspects of cropping within fodder banks must be resolved. Closer study of the rate of soil recuperation attainable under forage legumes on zonal basis is needed.

Crop Land

Improvement in the quality and quantity of fodder can be obtained from crop residues or forage legumes under or inter-sown with a grain crop. Because of the difficulties of timing and labour, under and inter-sowing are only likely to succeed where fodder has a high marginal value for, say, exotic dairy cows or work oxen. Fodder banks are most likely to be accepted in situation where agropastoralists are working enough land to produce worthwhile quantities for their own requirements.

Bush Land

The integration of natural grazing into crop/livestock systems will be difficult. It will, in part, follow automatically through the integration of the other two land categories in that cattle on higher protein rations will digest and utilize a higher percentage of their intake as natural forages.

Communal Grazing Areas

Improvement of natural grazing is difficult under communal grazing systems. It requires either land reform or the exploitation of communal or group authority structures. This is discussed in detail in many texts on range management. The temptation to introduce large-scale pasture improvement should be resisted until the cost/price relationships move in favour of milk and/or beef (Doppler, 1980). Even if higher levels of fertilizer subsidies allow adequate financial benefits this can be a fragile base for long-term pasture development plans (Gillard, 1982). Experience has shown that unless fire can be controlled large-scale pasture development is unlikely to succeed (Oxby, 1981) even if it can be economically established.

Livestock Service Centres

When ICL development sites have been selected attention should be given to the infrastructure which will be necessary to support integrated systems. Usually some form of livestock service centre will be needed to house extension staff, and the input supply facilities like stores and offices, collecting pens, auction yards, scales and ramps may be added where livestock marketing is a constaint. Generally, government should not be involved in marketing other than through the provision of marketing facilities like those built by ONERA in Upper Volta.

Even though pastoralists profess the objective of increasing milk production some pastoralists are reluctant to milk high producing cows. This usually indicates marketing problems and directly affects the acceptance of crop/ livestock systems since high-producing dairy cows could make forages more attractive than crops and a regular milk income not only provides for the family's consumption needs, but can also provide cash to purchase inputs for crop production (Brumby, 1982).

The service centres should be kept simple and provide extension staff for pasture and crop agronomy, animal health and animal husbandry. The number of staff and their levels of training will vary from nation to nation as will supervision; numbers will also vary according to number of herds and farms that can conveniently be served from the centre. As a rule of thumb it may be assumed that an extension officer can visit three farms/herds per day on four days a week, and that the herds need to be visited at least once every two months. This will determine the agropastoralist: extension staff ratio and the amount of storage that will be needed for seeds, fertilizer, feedstuffs and the like. As pastoralists tend to be widely dispersed the overheads for storage can be excessive unless they can be combined with some other activity or business like an agroservice centre, a cooperative or rural traders.

Since the livestock service centres will sooner or later have to start supplying seeds and fertilizer for forage production, the logic of separating agricultural and livestock services will become less obvious. When they are combined, even if the staff still have distinct responsibilities, it will be much easier to promote integrated crop/livestock systems because the centres will be a means of distributing livestock services more widely.

Supplier Credit

Agricultural credit institutions and banks should be encouraged to provide inventory finance for rural suppliers. These suppliers will, of course, vary from country to country depending on the prevailing economic philosophy, but they could be development agencies, project units, cooperatives or private entrepreneurs. As there may be insufficient competition between rural suppliers, and many of the inputs are scarce and have other outlets, the approved suppliers should be physically and organizationally associated with the service centres. The goods could then form part of the extension package available to those pastoralists who adopt and maintain certain management standards. There are means of compensating the supplier for this restricted freedom to trade and to encourage the provision of goods on credit to poorer customers. In order to be able to lend at reasonable rates of interest to the intended beneficiary the suppliers will need reasonable margins. This can be arranged by the government providing special low-interest loans to the financial institution equivalent to, say, 25 percent of approved disbursements. The institution would thus have its total portfolio increased by 25 percent and its interest mark-up on that 25 percent would be substantially higher than on its own funds. The actual proportions and rates of interest would depend on many factors and would need to be adjusted according to actual rates of disbursement, service costs and rates of default.

The advantage to the agricultural credit agencies and banks is that they would lend to suppliers who are few in number and have permanent addresses and security in the form of commercial plots and buildings. The suppliers could also be relied upon to assess the credit-worthiness of their customers more effectively than extension staff. The advantage to the producers is that they will have access to the goods and the opportunity to buy on account without procedural and legal complexities.

Crop/Livestock Systems Research

In view of the limited experience in promoting integrated crop/livestock systems, it is essential that appropriate research be accelerated as soon as possible. Apart from the dangers of working with inadequate information, delays in research will prevent the collection of the descriptive and diagnostic information which will be required to measure the uptake of the early innovations.

The national research institutes will need to ensure adequate career protection for scientists who break away from traditional disciplinary research to work on systems research.

Training of Extension Staff

Extension staff are necessarily trained in narrow disciplines - forages, crops, animal health, livestock husbandry, etc. To function effectively in promoting crop/livestock systems they will need to be informed of the major objectives and needs of their colleagues and how the various components interrelate. The systems research teams should be in the best position to provide up-to-date and relevant training.


There is a need for deliberate planning for the development of ICL systems. It must have its own specific set of policies and actions suited to the socio-economic circumstances of the agropastoralists as well as to their technical environments. Where two communities are involved normal mixedfarming innovations will have limited application. The recommended systems must be suited to overall land use where traditional rights and procedures are respected. This also applies to land cleared of tsetse although, with replanning and timely action, tsetse eradication could provide an opportunity for implementing more rational land use policies.

The Arable Crop Sector

In many developing countries agricultural production and development projects are based on commodities and production systems which are selected without reference to local ecological and socio-economic data. There is need, therefore, to establish reliable criteria for project planning and the selection of production systems for agricultural production campaigns.

Within farming systems and market demand the choice of crops to be grown can be determined on the basis of the FAO Agro-climatological Zones Project, Vol. 1 (Kassam et al., 1978) which shows the land suitability for rainfed production at high or low levels of inputs. For crops that are not covered by the report comparable data should be collected and evaluated before final decisions are taken.

It is necessary to identify the ecological zones in each country in West Africa and describe their suitability for different kinds of production systems; Eddy (1979) shows regions of Niger delineated into suitability zones for different livestock and crop production systems. This assessment should include suitability for human settlement including the infrastructural facilities required to get produce to the market and bring in equipment and inputs. Areas where groundnuts or cotton are grown and processed in large quantities may be suitable sites for ICL projects but this will depend on constraints like diseases or pests that could render the venture unprofitable. In addition case of production of fodder throughout the year, the availability of a market, transportation facilities, meat processing facilities and other infrastructure should be taken into account.

Improvements of Arable or Field Crop Production Systems to Enhance ICL Production

The cropping patterns encountered in traditional farming systems, especially in the humid and subhumid tropics, contain a number of crops in mixtures and relay cropping sequences called by Allan (1965), pseudo-rotations. To improve cropping patterns in traditional farming systems the following steps should be taken:

  1. Determine through field surveys and available data the dominant arable food or cash crops grown and those of secondary and tertiary importance.

  2. The use of major crops as the basis for designing new crop combinations and sequences so as to provide for, say, yam-based cropping systems, cassava-based cropping systems, maize and sorghum, sorghum-legume, millets and rice-based cropping systems depending on the ecological zones and climate of the country or region.

  3. Design crop combinations or sequences to (i) allow for diversification and some form of multiple cropping or rotational planting pattern; (ii) reduce the number of crop species in the mixture and plant them in rows to allow some degree of mechanization; (iii) ensure that cereals, root and tuber crops, legumes, forage grasses and vegetables are grown in combinations and sequences to reduce pests and diseases, and (iv) provide for a strip cropping system of rotations that has built-in diversification but uses sole crops or simple mixtures which can derive maximum benefit from fertilizers and pesticides.

  4. Cropping patterns should include species of crops and varieties that (i) are compatible; (ii) ensure that the soil is covered during most of the year to minimize erosion; (iii) provide residues that can be grazed or used as much; (iv) include in the rotation cover crops of grass and/or legumes for animal feed, and (v) allow for some form of alley cropping or agroforestry system for producing fuel wood.

  5. In the humid tropics there is need to reduce or eliminate fallow as a result of intensification of cropping (see Figure 13) but alley cropping may still ensure that the benefits of fallowing are achieved.

  6. High priority should be given to technologies that minimize labour and reduce input costs. Reduction of fertilizer cost and use can be achieved with the nitrogen fixing legumes and deep rooted nutrient cycling shrubs included in alley cropping.

  7. Land development and soil management techniques should be adapted to the ecological zones and the crops. Where zero tillage techniques are suitable rotations involving root crops that require some cultivation can be designed to minimize cultivation. Moreover, periodic deep ploughing or use of deep rooting shrubs may be necessary to combat soil compaction problems that may arise with mechanization.

  8. The Middle Belt of West Africa continues to be under-utilized, yet it is the most suitable zone for forage and pasture production for livestock feed. Most of the mixed farms for fattening and dairying should be located here and in highland tropical areas. There are also opportunities for fattening trypanotolerant species and the production of small ruminants in the humid tropics. Agrosilvipastoral systems and improved homestead-gardens should provide for maximum use of browse plants and fodder species in rotation.

  9. Research and related activities for the improvement of cropping systems and the development of rotations should be sited in benchmark areas and crop dominance zones to minimize duplication of effort and enhance transferability of results.

Improvement of the Compound or Homestead-Garden

The homestead-garden is the most common feature of traditional farming systems throughout West Africa. It exhibits an intensive, permanent, often ICL production system but little effort is being devoted to its improvement. In the homestead-garden tree crops, arable crops, horticultural crops, fish ponds, livestock and plants that provide raw materials may have a place, provided that there is planned development to ensure maximum utilization. Production on the homestead farm involves gradual development and accumulation of plants which soon compete with each other, or shade out arable species. The plantings of homesteads should be planned in relation to the area of land available. Fruit trees and arable and vegetable crops should be produced to satisfy subsistence and some cash requirements, and by maximizing their production in an integrated crop and livestock system, more land will be available in the outlying fields for the production of crops. In designing the improved homestead-garden consideration must be given to the different roles of men and women in production and land use. A special project should be developed for the improvement of homestead-gardens in different ecological zones.

Training and Communication

Shortage of manpower at all levels in research, development and extension prevents African countries from carrying out their own project planning and execution. There is need for cooperation to train a team of scientists to carry out this work assisted by local institutions, although there are certain studies which individual countries can carry out using existing staff. The collection of basic data on crop and livestock numbers and production systems does not require any longterm training.

There is need to improve communication on the progress of ICL systems in different countries. These reports should be made available to the policy-makers to ensure that there is a coordinated national plan of action and a commitment to allocate the resources the plan requires.

The various activities suggested above to enhance realization of the potential of ICL call for international and inter-institutional cooperation. Complementarity in the utilization of the resources of various ecological zones in ICL systems cannot be readily achieved without cooperation among ECOWAS countries. These countries can jointly commission special studies and projects. Early steps should ensure that standardized data are collected as a basis for planning, research and programme development.

The Plantation Crop Sector

One of the options which could help to solve the meat-food-foreign exchange problem is the better utilization of plantations by the integration of livestock production systems. Integrated crop livestock farming has been defined as a farm practice which concurrently utilizes the same unit area of land in the production of crops and animals (Wan Mohamed, 1978; Mahyuddin et al., 1979).

The Factors to be Considered

A number of interrelated factors must be taken into consideration if livestock are to be integrated with tree crops:

The amount of money available determines the scale of the operation and influences inputs such as labour, the time it takes to establish the plantation, the density of tree planting and the number and type of animals which can be kept. Official agricultural credit scarcely reaches the small farmer.

The size will depend on finance and influence the scale of operations. Most of the plantations (cocoa, rubber, oil palm, coconuts) are owned by smallholders with holdings of 1.5 to 10 ha although some own 50 ha or more.

The size and age of the plantations will determine not only the quantity of forage which can be produced but its type and quality. While in the humid zone livestock may not be able to control growth under plantations, in the semi-arid and subhumid zones it may be necessary to restrict grazing. It will also be necessary to introduce shade tolerant pasture when establishing plantations in the humid zone.

If the plantation is less than one hectare, animals may have to be stall fed. In the humid zone it should be possible to raise between five to eleven sheep or two head of cattle under a hectare of citrus, rubber, oil palm or coconuts, depending on the age of the plantation.

Only trypanotolerant cattle, sheep and goats can be kept in the wetter areas. Due to their higher dry matter intake, lower water consumption and higher digestibility of crude fibre (Pant et al., 1962; Gihad, 1976) goats can utilize a variety of feeds unacceptable to cattle and sheep; they are also fecund (Oppong and Yebuah, 1981; ILCA, 1979b). Goats, however, cannot tolerate too much rain; they browse and do not thrive in confinement.

Management will depend on the size and age of the plantation as well as the number and species of animals. On large estates where herdsmen are available, animals may be grazed under a block of trees, grazed in rotation, stall fed or raised in paddocks. If the plantation is small the animals may be kept in paddocks, stall fed, or tethered or, in old coconut and oil palm plantations, allowed to graze freely.

If goats are kept they will probably have to be tethered and in young plantations animals would have to be stall fed or kept in paddocks and zero grazed.

Livestock can be kept in night paddocks within or outside the plantation. If numbers are few and the plantations are old, they can be tethered to individual trees at night, especially coconuts. Portable fences may be used to confine animals depending on the scale of the operation.

Milk goats and cows could be kept in stalls at the homestead at night. Goats should always be provided with shelter against the rain.

In addition to the understorey forage and food crop by products, some additional feeds such as dropped citrus, oil palm sludge and oil palm fibre press, cocoa pods, kapok seeds, etc. will be available for the stock, especially on large estates where semi-processing takes place.

Other activities that may flow from crop livestock integration, under plantations, include biogas production from dung and fish farming.

Apart from a few large private and government estates, most plantations are owned by smallholders who interplant them with food crops on establishment. The amount of food crops planted depends on the size of the plantations and distance from markets.

There are also plantations of non-fast growing hardwoods established by farmers for the Forestry Departments; the farmers usually interplant the trees with food crops. There is an enormous potential for livestock feed in these zones. A total of 6.9 million hectares of plantations including oil palm, rubber, coconuts and cocoa, plus another 100 000 hectares of forest trees have been established.

Due to the vulnerability of its fruit, cocoa is seldom used to graze animals. If half of the existing 3 million ha of cocoa plantation were used for grazing stock at 5 sheep or goats per ha, an additional 7.5 million sheep or goats could be raised. The existing oil palm and coconut plantations, whose canopies have closed, could be pruned to provide more light for the understorey and thereby more forage.

Sheep and goats are best adapted to these zones but smallholders may be encouraged to keep trypanotolerant milk cows and goats where disease prevention and control measures can be provided.

In the first year of establishment of the small plantation after food crops and by products have been harvested, some sheep or goats may be kept at the homestead and fed on scrap, like plantain, banana, yam and cassava peels, augmented by natural fodder such as Axonopus compressus, which is widely available.

Small farmers usually take about five years to establish their plantations. This would allow new food crop plantings in each year while the previous year's plantain and bananas would provide feed for sheep and goats. In the second year grass/legume cover crops could be introduced to be grazed when the plantations are three years old by tethered sheep and goats. By the fourth or fifth year when the trees are large the animals can be allowed free range grazing and their numbers increased to four or five per ha under oil palm and coconuts. Rubber cannot be grazed owing to possible damage to the trees until they are more than three years old.

In the large estates of oil palm, rubber, citrus, coconuts and avocado, where cover crops like Centrosema and Pueraria have been established to protect the soil, sheep and goats might be grazed after the second year; 8–10 animals per ha could probably be carried until the trees are 6–8 years old. Planting of the right mix of cover crops allows a large number of animals to be raised even when light transmission to the understorey is as low as 40 percent. By the time light transmission restricts herbage growth, by products from the trees should be available in sufficient quantities to provide substitute feed.

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