Pastoralism and communal livestock production are important economic activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to FAO production figures the number of cattle in two countries, Botswana and Namibia, outnumber the human population (FAO, 1989). In Southern Africa, Botswana's agricultural sector is largely dependent on livestock, because most of the country lacks adequate rainfall for arable agriculture. A complicating factor is the unreliability of the rainfall and the potential for recurrent drought. Indeed, drought is considered a normal occurrence and farmers experience crop failure three or four years in every decade. Tyson, points out that the oscillations observed in past rainfall will likely continue into the future and that the rainfall averages would be expected to decline until 1982 or 1983 followed by a dry period lasting until about 1992 (Tyson, 1979, p. 51). This proved to be true as the 1982 drought began and it remains to be seen if the rainfall will increase in the next few years. While diamonds and minerals have superseded beef as the largest export, livestock remains the dominant factor in the agricultural sector and a large portion of the population rely on income from livestock to survive. For these reasons, livestock will most likely remain an important part of Botswana's economy and culture. Since independence in 1960, livestock projects have been implemented in almost every country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, few of the projects have been successful and donors are understandably reluctant to continue financing such projects. Because about 80% of the people in Botswana live in rural areas, it is unlikely that national development can be successful, unless there is a growing agricultural sector which generates jobs and employment and an efficient livestock sub-sector. Careful thought needs to be given to the reasons why donor-financed livestock projects have failed in Africa and to the donor experience in Botswana. An equally important issue that relates closely to the problems of communal livestock is the use and preservation of the natural resources and the environment. It is apparent that future development projects must consider the long term effects of these projects on the sustainability of economic systems such as agriculture. The challenge is to develop productive and environmentally sustainable cropping and livestock systems. The Botswana government recognized this need in the National Development Plan for 1976-1981: "The greatest challenge facing the livestock industry is to develop a system of land use and land tenure that can achieve sustained long term production from Botswana's range land" (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, 1977, p.14B).

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Graduate Research Master's Degree Plan B Papers

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-23

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