Resilience

Alternative fodder production for vulnerable herders in the West Bank

Alternative fodder production for vulnerable herders in the West Bank
Jan 2016

Context

Unfavorable conditions due to overarching Israeli restrictions have contributed to the fragility of local production systems for herders in the West Bank, where the majority of families are dependent on livestock as their main source of income. Since 2011, FAO has been promoting the use of hydroponic technology (soil-less plant propagation) by vulnerable herders and their cooperatives, providing a low-cost, high quality, sustainable source of fodder available year-round. This approach increases the profitability of livestock production and helps herders stay in business.

Challenge

The protracted crisis, recurrent droughts and overgrazing have decreased access to grazing land for livestock, which in turn increased their dependency on imported fodder and made them more vulnerable to fodder price volatility. As fodder is the largest expense (70 percent of costs) needed to sustain herders livelihoods, alternative sustainable fodder production activities can prevent herders from adopting negative coping mechanisms such as selling productive assets (land, animals, etc.). Herders are in dire need of a high quality, low-cost source of green fodder available throughout the year.

What is hydroponic technology

The hydroponic is a subset of hydroculture and the most common soil-less method of growing plants. Plants can be grown either on an inert substrate (e.g. sand, perlite or gravel) in an aqueous medium with bare roots. The substrate can provide plant support and moisture retention. Irrigation systems are integrated within these substrates, thereby introducing a nutrient solution to the plants’ root zones. The green fodder produced from hydroponic technology contains roughly 16–18 percent protein.This intervention is designed to urgently minimize the devastating effects of external shocks, while a longer-term development approach to tackle the root causes of vulnerability to shocks is being assessed.

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