Response Papers

Crop–livestock interactions: implications for policy-makers and for farmers


This paper was prepared in response to a paper prepared by Vetter (in this issue) that addressed the issue of policy development related to sustainable management of rangelands. In line with the sentiments of Vetter, policies are understood to guide the allocation of resources. The important contribution that livestock make to rural livelihoods is well recognised and strengthening crop–livestock interactions is seen as an effective way of improving livestock productivity while generally being understood as an effective way to increase agricultural production so as to meet the growing needs of the global population. The use of crop residues by livestock is one specific linkage that offers opportunities, but this could be maximised by increasing the yield and quality of the residues. One key challenge to strengthening crop–livestock interactions is the extent to which arable lands are being abandoned. Efforts need to be made to reverse this situation, which requires a range of technical and social/institutional interventions. Although some policy documents refer to integrated systems and alternative cropping practices, there is limited evidence that this in fact is happening on the ground. Policy needs to support crop–livestock interactions more actively so that on-farm research with farmers, as is happening in Msinga, becomes more widespread.

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