Table of Contents Next Page


1. This paper examines the effects of drought-induced livestock losses on crop production and considers a range of policy measures aimed at rehabilitation of the farm sector in the post-drought period. Farm animals play an important role in crop production in a number of farming systems. Draft animals are used for ploughing and weeding fields and for transporting goods and people. Female stock provide the household with supplies of milk while animal dung is a source of fertiliser and fuel. Livestock also represent a valuable asset for the farm household, the loss of which makes it poorer and more vulnerable to adversity.

2. The paper focusses on policies which can be carried out in the short-to medium-term to reduce the length of time taken for the farm sector to recover its productive capacity after drought. It assumes that losses of a certain magnitude have already taken place and thus does not consider the role of pre-drought or emergency measures, such as early warning systems or provision of famine relief. Rehabilitation is taken here to mean the re-establishment of productive farm capacity in drought-affected regions. This may not always imply the restoration of the production system as it was before the drought. For example, very heavy grazing pressure from oxen and other stock may mean that alternative sources of draft power should be found or fodder crop production be increased.

3. Since the main focus of this paper is on live-stock-related aspects of farm production, it will not consider explicitly the need to provide seed and other inputs in order to help farm recovery. However, it is recognised that seed distribution may be a precondition for successful post-drought recovery where crop losses have been high. There are also important interactions between the farm and livestock sectors which need to be examined. Drought losses in the pastoral sector affect farmers through changes in the supply and prices of stock. In addition, policy measures taken to aid recovery in the pastoral sector may have spillover effects on the farm sector and vice versa. An example of this is where farmers are given credit to buy young oxen to replace those they have lost, a programme which is likely to have an inflationary effect on the price of such animals leading to a rise in prices received by pastoral herd-owners.

4. The paper starts by outlining the main effects of drought on crop producers in order to show the various processes through which impoverishment of farmers and losses of stock take place. It goes on to consider the interaction between droughts in the arable and livestock sectors before looking at indigenous strategies for rehabilitation pursued by producers themselves, following drought losses. It then examines the various policy options open to governments and development agencies wishing to speed recovery in the crop sector and discusses the relative costs and problems associated with each. It will be seen that the most effective form of intervention will depend on the special circumstances found in the region concerned. The paper ends by recommending that priority be given to examining the different options available in a given case and to funding a programme that can be put rapidly into effect.

Figure 1. Effects of drought on farming areas

Top of Page Next Page