Livestock in mixed farming systems in South Asia
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Parthasarathy Rao, P and Birthal, P. S. 2008. Livestock in mixed farming systems in South Asia. Patancheru, India: ICRISAT
Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/400
Animal production in South Asia is predominantly part of mixed crop-livestock farming systems vital for the security and survival of large numbers of poor people. In such systems, livestock generate cash income, provide draught power and manure, utilize crop residues and by-products making them partially, closed systems, and thus the most benign from the environmental perspective. Mixed farming systems however, are extremely complex and heterogeneous in terms of crops grown, livestock species raised and in their responses to development initiatives. Further, recent decades have seen significant changes in mixed systems in terms of livestock demography, increased commercialization (degree of integration with markets), etc. Factors contributing to this change include growing human population, mechanization of cultivation and rural transportation, use of inorganic fertilizers and government programs to promote animal production. On the demand side, an important factor contributing to the change has been the growing demand for livestock products (milk and meat) driven by income growth, urbanization and changes in tastes and preferences in the region. Meeting this growing demand is both an opportunity and a challenge for small-scale mixed crop-livestock farmers. Unlike in the past, productivity increases should contribute a larger share to output growth owing to increasing pressure on land and competing resources. Low productivity of livestock in mixed crop-livestock systems in South Asia is due to non-adoption of available technologies or their uptake has not been sustainable, because they were improperly targeted into the farming systems (for example, introducing cross-breeding technology in areas with poor feed resources, improved forage crops in low rainfall areas etc). To better understand the nature of small scale mixed farming systems in South Asia, the recognition of the strong nexus between crop and animal production, the striking variation in systems and the need for differential intervention, a Crop–Livestock Systems typology has been constructed that delineates the regions of each country into homogenous croplivestock zones /systems with similar response to technology uptake and development initiatives. Thus, the typology would enable better targeting of technical and socioeconomic interventions aimed at improving animal productivity and protecting the natural resource base on the farms in South Asia.