Onderwerp scriptie

Livestock as a livelihood adaptation strategy for smallholder farmers in semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe - Shamiso Mahachi

In Zimbabwe rural areas are marginally located, have very poor infertile soils, rainfall is erratic and mid-season droughts are frequent. Reduction in crop yields and crop failure are now a yearly occurrence. If farmers continue to hang in to crops as their livelihood strategy this can relegate them further into poverty. This study therefore evaluated the possibility of commercializing livestock as the major livelihood strategy for smallholder households of different endowments in semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe the majority of the population lives in the rural areas. Their main source of livelihood is rain fed crop production. These areas are marginally located, have very poor infertile soils, rainfall is erratic and mid-season droughts are frequent. Reduction in crop yields and crop failure are now a yearly occurrence. If farmers continue to hang in to crops as their livelihood strategy this can relegate them further into poverty. This study therefore evaluated the possibility of commercializing livestock as the major livelihood strategy for smallholder households of different endowments in semi-arid areas of Zimbabwe. It was carried out in Nharira-Lancshire, in Chikomba district Zimbabwe. Households were classified and purposive sampling was done to select a total of 50 households, 10 VCL, 16 VNCL, 12 A2CL and 12 A2NCL. Data was collected using a household questionnaire and 3 focus group discussions. Commercial households had more resources compared to the non-commercial households but the differences between the A2 households were not as significant as those of the village households. The major livelihood strategies for the households were dairy production for the VCL and A2CL households, commercial crop production for the A2NCL households and off-farm labour for the VNCL households. Commercial households had more yearly benefits compared to the non-commercial. Almost all the household agreed that crop production has been on the downward trend for the past 3 decades but the VNCL and A2NCL households did not view changing from crop to livestock as an option. Some of the factors constraining them from venturing into commercial livestock production were lack of capital, knowhow, markets and labour. Different entry points into livestock production were established in this study. It was discovered that, there is need to enhance the farmer’s knowledge about livestock through participatory training methods in order to increase the chances of adoption. Poultry production was seen as the most appropriate entry point for the VNCL households. There was need to help the A2NCL farmers by creating and organizing markets for other livestock products besides milk.

Student: S Mahachi

Supervisor: dr ir S Oosting

36 Ects