Throughout the world and over centuries, small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists have developed animal breeds that are well suited to their local conditions. These breeds are hardy and disease-resistant; they can survive on little water and scant vegetation. They can continue producing meat and milk in areas where modern, imported breeds succumb without expensive housing, feed and veterinary care. They enable people to earn a living in otherwise inhospitable areas, and embody valuable genetics for future breeding efforts.
Nevertheless, these breeds are in danger of disappearing, pushed out by modern production techniques and out-competed by exotic breeds. Finding niche markets for their products is one possible way of ensuring the survival of these breeds, and enabling the people who keep them to earn more from their existing lifestyle.
This book describes eight cases from Africa, Asia and Latin America where outside interventions have attempted to develop markets for specialty products from local breeds. The cases include wool, cashmere, meat, hides, milk and dairy products, from dromedaries, Bactrian camels, sheep and goats. The countries represented are Argentina, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Mongolia, Somalia and South Africa. Some of the initiatives targeted urban markets within the country; others were aimed at the export market.
Overall, the cases demonstrate that niche marketing of products from local breeds can generate employment and income for the poor – both livestock keepers and others involved in processing and trading the product. It can empower women, reverse the decline in the breeds concerned, and conserve both the environment and cultural values. It can be pro-poor because it is the poor who tend to keep local breeds, and because the type of work and amount of income generated may make it unattractive for wealthier individuals.