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Economics of Pastoralism in Argentina, Chad and Mongolia

Strengthening the capacity of pastoralist associations to collect and manage their own data


14/06/2021 -

Pastoralists make the most of resources distributed unevenly over space and time to provide a range of goods and services. Operating in a shock-prone environment, pastoralists deploy endogenous strategies such as mobility, diversification in agriculture or in non-agricultural activities, management of social networks, etc. Pastoralists make the most of resources distributed unevenly over space and time to provide a range of goods and services. Operating in a shock-prone environment, pastoralists deploy endogenous strategies such as mobility, diversification in agriculture or in non-agricultural activities, management of social networks, etc. However, governments often neglect to invest and provide public services to the pastoralist production system, and private actors are not keen to be strongly involved. Knowledge about the real contribution of pastoralists to local, regional and national economies has yet to percolate down to more national and local actors and stakeholders.

To fill this gap, FAO’s Pastoralist Knowledge Hub (PKH) and the Centre de Coopération Internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) implemented the “Pastoralist-Driven Data Management System” project from 2017 to 2019 in Argentina, Chad and Mongolia. The project was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and aimed to support pastoral organizations in these countries to collect and analyse primary data of pastoral households, provide new insights into the economics of pastoralism, and assess its contribution to national GDPs. 

The project fulfilled a two-fold purpose – firstly, to assess the economic contribution of pastoralism and its related aspects such as composition of herds, composition of gross revenue, inequity in resource distribution, etc. Secondly, it developed the capacity of local civil society organizations to collect and manage their own data, paving the path for advocating for evidence-based and pastoralist-friendly policies. To  add  a  more  dynamic  analysis,  CIRAD  proposed  to  identify  what  stake-holders perceive to be the main shocks impacting pastoral systems in Argentina and Mongolia and the main adaptation and coping strategies implemented by pastoralists to cope with these disturbances.

An extensive report of the project “The economics of pastoralism in Argentina, Chad and Mongolia: Market participation and multiple livelihood strategies in a shock-prone environment” and three policy briefs, on “Pastoralism in Argentina, Chad and Mongolia” respectively were produced.

The products highlight that:

  • Pastoral and agro-pastoral associations greatly contribute to the collection of reliable and accurate data
  • Agro/pastoralists use markets of goods and services and they ensure their food security through purchases and self-consumption, but their access to markets is constrained by weak enabling environment
  • Agro/pastoral households generate wealth at the micro level and for national economies
  • Economic contribution of agro/pastoral households is threatened by high inequalities due to asymmetric access to productive resources
  • Agro/pastoralists operate in a shock-prone environments. They take advantage of it by prioritizing strategies based on their own resources: mobility, family labour and asset sales,  

This project greatly contributed to the realization of the agro/pastoralists impact to household and national wealth in Argentina, Chad and Mongolia, especially when self-consumption is factored in economic estimates. In addition, it has led to the proposal of setting up of an Observatory on Pastoralism in each country, allowing to monitor and assess the state of pastoralism (from different angles, e.g. gender, youth, food security, inequalities), as well as its dynamics and ongoing processes.