- Pastoralism is often regarded as an antiquated practice ill-suited to the modern economy, yet trade between pastoral communities in Africa - much of it informal and illegal - generated an estimated US$1 billion each year, according to a new book published by the Futures Agriculture Consortium,.
“If we shift our gaze from the capital cities, where the development and policy elite congregate, to the regional centers and their hinterlands where pastoralists live, then a very different perspective emerges. Here we see the growth of a booming livestock export trade, the flourishing of the private sector, the expansion of towns with the inflow of investment, and the emergence of a class of entrepreneurs commanding a profitable market, and generating employment and other business opportunities; and all of this driven without a reliance on external development aid,” said the authors of the study.
Pastoralism contributes between 10 and 44 percent of the GDP of African countries. An estimated 1.3 billion people benefit from livestock value chain, according to the International Livestock Research Institute.
“Pastoralism contributes to the livelihoods of millions of people across Africa, in some of the poorest and most deprived areas. It is a critical source of economic activity in dryland areas, where other forms of agriculture are impossible,” Ian Scoones, from the Institute of Development Studies, told IRIN.
Ced Hesse, a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told IRIN that in East Africa alone, “pastoralism directly supports an estimated 20 million people” and produces “80 percent of the total annual milk supply in Ethiopia, provides 90 percent of the meat consumed in East Africa, and contributes 19 percent, 13 percent and 8 percent of GDP in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, respectively”.