Across the developing world, millions of smallholders keep livestock as a means of storing capital and as an insurance against hard times. This is a vital function for livestock – but it is associated with poverty. As demand for livestock products increases and systems become more intensive there are opportunities for subsistence livestock keepers to make the transition from being “cattle keepers” to “cattle producers”. Deriving some cash income from livestock production helps farmers to transition out of poverty.
In this Technical Advisory Note from the Fodder Adoption Project, Werner Stür (formerly of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT) describes the way in which scientists from CIAT and Tay Nguyen University worked with local farmers and other stakeholders to bring about widespread change in cattle production in Ea Kar District in Vietnam.
According to Werner Stür “The key to success was the combination of a convincing technology – farm-grown fodder – and an innovation process that was participatory, actor-oriented, and both production and market focused. The immediate benefits of easy access to fodder stimulated stakeholders’ interest and provided an entry point for innovation. As cattle production improved and stakeholders realised that they could produce high-quality animals, market opportunities became the key driver for change”.