Livestock is the source of livelihood and food security for two-thirds of the rural poor in developing countries. This study examined the combined technical and institutional constraints that hinder smallholder livestock production and marketing in Northern Ghana and how interventionists and farmers themselves sought to resolve the constraints over the past 20 years.
The constraints farmers experienced were diseases, lack of water during dry season and theft. Resilient strategies of most farmers involved keeping livestock as capital stock and insurance against crop failure and emergency cash needs, low input use and sufficient volume of livestock production. Three public interventions (1996 – 2009) were characterised by the interventionists’ inability to learn from farmers and their tendency for prescriptive solutions and consequent marginal adoption of intervention outcomes. It was concluded that household food security is a significant driver of current (non-commercial) livestock production, self-organized responses to surrounding conditions, and selective use of intervention outcomes.