The role of livestock in poverty alleviation: An analysis of Colombia
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Holmann, F., Rivas, L., Urbina, N., Giraldo, L., Guzman, S., Martinez, M., Rivera, B., Medina, A. and Ramírez, G. 2005. The role of livestock in poverty alleviation: An analysis of Colombia. Livestock Research for Rural Development 17(1).
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/1269
Internet URL: http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd17/1/holm17011.htm
The objective of this study was to understand the perception of agricultural producers in Colombia who currently do not own livestock about the role of cattle in alleviating poverty in their farms. Data came from direct survey interviews in 2002 with 143 farmers who did not own cattle in the five most important regions of animal production in Colombia to elicit their perception about the role of livestock as a pathway out of poverty. Selected regions were: Piedmont, Caribbean, the Coffee-growing region, the highlands of Antioquia, and the Cundiboyacense altiplanicie. Most smallholders interviewed in the Piedmont had cattle in the past (85%), followed by producers in Antioquia (60%) and least in the Coffee-growing region (39%). The most important reason for selling their cattle in all regions was due to financial crisis and needed cash (ie., from 27% of smallholders interviewed in the Caribbean and the Cundiboyacense altiplanicie to almost 50% in the Piedmont). Most smallholders surveyed used the money from the sale of animals to pay health bills of family members, to pay off debts, and/or to use the cash to survive due to crop failure from extreme weather conditions (ie., drought or frost damage). The most striking result is that 76% of farmers in Antioquia to 97% of smallholders in the Cundiboyacense altiplanicie would like to own cattle if they had the opportunity. The most important reason for owning cattle in all regions was as a mechanism for savings and building capital. The second most important reason in all regions was to obtain milk and beef for family consumption, except in Antioquia where this issue was irrelevant. Other reasons for owning cattle were to reduce and diversify risk due to crop failure and to utilize manure as fertilizer. The preferred animal category to own in all regions was by far the milking cow, ranging from 52% of smallholders in Antioquia to 96% in the Cundiboyacense altiplanicie. Results from this study show that cattle are perceived by small-holder farmers as a contribution to the improvement in the quality of life. The challenge is to develop novel mechanisms to provide smallholders with livestock, either through credit loans or thru the Fondos Ganaderos of Colombia, whose objective is to help small farmers who have production capacity but lack the resources to buy cattle.