Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pastoralism can pay - but you would not know it

By Megan Rowling, BRACED
Pastoralists know markets well, but markets do not know much about pastoralists - and that is one reason it can be hard for businesses to expand into dryland areas in East and West Africa, to offer their goods and services to livestock herders.
Researchers and organisations working to expand income options for pastoralist communities - who are struggling to deal with growing climate change impacts like drought - are gaining a better grasp of these remote rural economies.
But decades of neglect by policymakers and under-development mean it isn't easy for the private sector to open up new markets in the pastoralist regions of northern Kenya or eastern Ethiopia.
"There are high barriers to entry," said Chloe Stull-Lane a consultant with the Kenya Markets Trust, which is helping animal health and insurance companies, among others, expand into pastoralist areas.
One major problem is a lack of education, with herding communities’ generally scoring low on basic development indicators.
Samburu tribesmen during Maralal Camel Derby,Kenya.REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
"Levels of education need to increase," Stull-Lane told a discussion on pastoralist economies at Development & Climate Days on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks.
Higher literacy would enable companies to provide information to potential clients and market themselves more easily. "Pastoralists haven't been very exposed to products and services," she added.
For companies wanting to offer financial and veterinary services, or start up livestock-related industries such as meat or dairy processing, it can be a challenge to find local staff with the right skills, so training requirements are high.
The Kenya Markets Trust is working with researchers, businesses, and policymakers through programmes funded by the British government and other donors to analyse and find solutions to the obstacles, and create market opportunities linked to the livestock industry.

For example, Stull-Lane said it was initially difficult to persuade an animal health firm and an insurance company to combine their distribution channels, to reduce costs and reach more people. However, three years on, they have followed the advice and sales have expanded fast.
In addition, there are people with money to spend in pastoralist regions. Achiba Gargule, a researcher at Bern University who comes from a pastoralist family, said it was a myth that all pastoralists are poor.
Many are, but some are wealthy thanks to large herds or working as middlemen between herders and markets, he said.

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