Livestock Environment and Development in Watersheds
Policy Note

By Dr R Ranjitha Pushkar, Dr B R Mangurkar, Ravindra A, A K Joseph, V Padmakumar, Madhuri Dass - 2005, 28 pp

Summary: The Policy note deals with livestock environment interactions in the watershed areas. It aims at striking a balance between making livestock a viable livelihood option and preserving the environment by promotion of sustainable resource management practices. The paper provides recommendations for achieving this balance and is targeted at policy makers, implementers, practitioners, NGOs, government departments, gram panchayats and community-based organizations. Various critical issues addressed here include common property resources, availability of quality services such as feeding, breeding, disease control, formal institutional credit and marketing, integration of livestock in watershed development programmes and so on. Every issue addressed is backed by case studies depicting best practices that can be adopted to overcome the issue. The paper recommends creating increased awareness to the various stakeholders, providing alternatives to grazing issues, measures that can help overcome fodder scarcity during drought, provisions for drinking water for livestock, coordination between various departments and training to overcome issues related to livestock-environment interactions. It advocates incorporating livestock component into the watershed programmes at the designing stage itself.

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Table of contents


ISSUE 1 - Access to Resources and Environmental Implications
1.1 Reduced access to common land resources (including forest) and environmental implications
1.2 Scarcity of fodder during drought
1.3 Reduced access to drinking water for livestock

ISSUE 2 - Access to Quality Inputs and Services
2.1 Poor access to livestock services
2.2 Poor access to formal and institutional credit

ISSUE 3 - Information, Participation and Co-ordination
3.1 Poor access to skills, knowledge and information
3.2 Low representation and participation in decision making
3.3 Poor coordination amongst government policies and departments

ISSUE 4 - Integrating Livestock in Watershed Development Programmes



Millions of poor farming families in rural India rear livestock, which is often their only means of sustained livelihood. These animals also contribute to ecological services. However, several practices today – related to access, use and management of resources – diminish the natural resource base and are a cause of grave concern.

Water and fodder are critical constraints for livestock development in semi-arid areas. In 1990, the government accorded high priority to meeting these needs under its programmes. Under the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA), 10% of project costs were earmarked to improving livestock rearing through financial support, improved healthcare services, fodder production and water points, etc. But, subsequent guidelines have been blurred on the issue of livestock rearing and are no longer an explicitly spelled out priority.

This policy paper analyses critical issues which affect the environment and the livelihoods of livestock rearing communities. It makes a series of recommendations which will ensure that livestock rearing continues to be a viable livelihood option for the poor on the one hand, and that the ecosystem can be preserved and nurtured, on the other. The issues are especially pertinent for policy makers, planners and implementers in various government departments – agriculture, rural development, forestry, revenue – as well as village self governments (gram panchayats), non governmental organisations and community based organisations participating in watershed projects.

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