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Unexploited Agricultural Growth: The Case of Crop–Livestock Production Systems in Zimbabwe



Livestock is the most important source of cash for small-scale farmers in the semi-arid tropics of southern Africa. However, with limited access to markets, farmers do not have the incentive to invest in improved livestock management. Livestock production and off-takes remain low and farmers are unable to realize the full potential of their herds. We believe that improved market access will be the driver to increase technology adoption for income growth and poverty reduction. In Zimbabwe, a recent baseline diagnosis by ICRISAT and partners found that cash income from goats is crucial to cover day-to-day expenditures for food, education and human health. Cattle are more important for draft power and milk, and support subsistence cropping activities. Major production constraints include high mortality rates attributed to dry season feed shortages, particularly affecting farmers with small herds. An increasing demand for livestock products in rural and urban areas offers small-scale farmers opportunities for market participation. However, the existing markets are underdeveloped, with high transaction costs implying low producer prices and poor access to information for farmers. The challenge is to sustain livestock production, develop more effective market facilities, and thereby increase off-take. The potential of market-led technology development in crop–livestock systems has not been sufficiently exploited by research and development. To have an impact on incomes and poverty, we develop an innovative approach that would first evaluate local constraints in production and marketing, and then test alternative livestock markets and management strategies, with a strong linkage between private and public sectors

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