Pastoral farming is one of the most important production systems in countries with dry lands. Since its existence, there have been many times when pastoral farming had a bad reputation. Today this form of agriculture is getting more popular in various countries. But do we need the further development of pastoral farming? What are the advantages and disadvantages of pastoral farming? Today we will answer these and more questions.
What is pastoral farming?
First of all, let’s fully establish; what does pastoral farming mean. Pastoral farming is the non-nomadic form of pastoralism. The aim of this form of agriculture is to produce livestock. For example, pastoral farmers raise sheep for wool, cows, and nanny-goats for dairy farming, etc.
Pastoral farming can be categorized by the following ways:
- by geography;
- by ecology;
- by management system;
- by species.
Let’s briefly cover some of the categories in order to get more familiar with pastoral farming.
Categorizing by geography
This is fairly simple - pastoral farming is found in different countries. The most important thing that you need to remember is that pastoral farming won’t occur only in the countries with grasslands. Quite often pastoral farmers will adjust their pastures to fit the need of the livestock. There are various improvements to the pastures depending on the region:
- Stock tank in dry regions;
- Drainage in wet regions;
- Sowing clover.
Pastoral farming is often found in the following zones:
- Central America;
- Sub-Saharan Africa;
- Circumpolar zone;
- Central Asia;
- North America;
- Near East and South-Central Asia;
- South America.
- North Africa;
Categorizing by ecology
There is not much to say about categorizing pastoral farming by ecology. It is obvious that the farming will depend on the ecology of the certain zone. It has a big impact on the livestock, which will not be healthy in bad environmental conditions.
Categorizing by species
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There are various species that are found in the pastoral zones depending on the environmental conditions. The main species are:
- Small ruminants like sheeps and goats. They are usually found in Europe, Asia, Africa, India, America;
- Cattle that are found in Africa, India, and America;
- Camels that are found in Africa and India;
- Buffaloes that are usually spread in India and America;
- Ducks. Widespread in India, Europe, America;
- Reinder - only in the Circumpolar zone;
- Llamas and alpaca - only in The Andes.
Pastoral farming in Africa
Pastoral farming is widespread in Ireland, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Canada and the Western United States. This is quite obvious since the environmental conditions are good for the livestock.
But what can we do in Africa with its semi-arid climate? The drylands of Africa cover more than half of the total continent land area! It is known that most of the soils in South Africa are poor and they don’t favor crop farming. So it certainly has to be something else, like pastoral farming, for example.
The dominant animals for pastoral farming in Africa are:
Sheep are mostly used for wool production. Most of the wool is exported. Cattle are used for dairy production. In this case, a big amount of dairy products are for “home” consumption. However, some of the dairy products are exported to other countries, including the UK.
Pastoral farming has a big impact on Africa. In fact, there is almost 270 million pastoralist. They contribute between 10 to 44% of GDP in their African countries.
Pastoral farming advantages and disadvantages
Now that you know more about pastoral farming, it is time to analyze its advantages and disadvantages. However, remember that they will be for all countries in general. As we already know, some zones are more suitable for certain species than others. Also, the zones have different soil and animals have the different impact on the soil.
Let’s start with advantages. Why do we need pastoral farming?
5 advantages of pastoral farming
1. The most obvious advantage of pastoral farming is that it can be done in dry lands where there is no way to grow crops.
2. Pastoral farming helps with carbon sequestration.
3. Animals are used for plowing and transport. They are also exported to other countries.
4. Animals produce dairy, meat, skins, fibers. Their products may be used/consumed in the home country, exported or used for manufacturing products.
5. The manure (the excrement of animals) can be used to fertilize the land. Crop farmers often have deals with pastoral farmers and take the manure for their fields. The manure can also be used as fuel.
What are the disadvantages of pastoral farming?
Most of the disadvantages have a big impact on the pastoral farmers themselves.
1. Some of the pastoral farmers have to buy food for their animals, which can be quite expensive. High prices will have a great impact on the price of animal products in the future.
2. Problems with financial and insurance services. Some banking systems do not classify livestock as insurable. The pastoral farmers are excluded from the credit systems.
3. Overgrazing of the pastoral area can lead to many problems including land erosion and destruction of the vegetation of the land. It is a big problem for green lands.
4. There is a fair amount of diseases that might spread among animals. The diseases are often dangerous to humans. Products that are produced by the sick animals are infected with diseases. Not all pastoral farmers are responsible, and not all animals and products are checked. This might lead to an easy outbreak of various diseases among people.
Pastoral farming is widely popular in African countries. And we can see why! You can safely say that pastoral farming is almost at the same position as crop farming. However, some experts say that there is no future for pastoral farming. The reason is that it is quite expensive in some countries.
A lot of money is spent to take care of animals. That money could be spent on crops, for example. In some countries, the number of crops that you can buy with the same amount of money, could feed more people than if you spend the money on meat and dairy products.
However, pastoral farming is the best decision for those countries that do not have the needed environment for other types of agriculture. We think that pastoral farming will continue to be popular; at least in African countries.