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«FAO ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND HEALTH paper ADDING VALUE TO LIVESTOCK DIVERSITY Marketing to promote local breeds and improve livelihoods Cover ...»

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Many of these challenges are common to attempts to market any type of product produced by small-scale producers and pastoralists, or by producers in remote areas: a lack of infrastructure and services, a bias against small-scale production, a mobile lifestyle, etc. (see Small-scale livestock producers and pastoralists above).

Added to this are special problems relating to creating a niche market. Those aiming to

do this will have to:

Identify existing products (or create new ones) that will attract a premium price.

Identify a market where these products can be sold.

Organize producers to produce and deliver products at an agreed price in a reliable manner.

Get producers to agree on quality criteria and to ensure that products attain these standards.

Create a value chain to link the producers with the market, in ways that the producers benefit (so they have an interest in continuing to raise their particular breed).

Box 5 gives an example of an organization in India that is seeking niche markets for camel products: milk, wool and dung.

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Mool Singh is owner of over 100 female camels in a remote corner of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, in western India. His camels are his only asset. He used to earn a good income from selling young male animals to the Border Security Force, which used camels to patrol the open border with Pakistan. But when a fence and an asphalt road were constructed to mark the border, the Border Security Force no longer required camels, except for ceremonial purposes. Farmers too had switched to tractors, so the demand for draft camels fizzled out.

As a result, in the early 2000s, the prices for camels dipped to an all-time low: they sold for not more than a sheep or a goat. Seeing no future in their profession, many camel breeders – in circumvention of Hindu beliefs against using camels for meat – began to sell their female camels for slaughter. The camel population dipped by 50% within 10 years.

In 2006, Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, a local NGO, started to investigate new ways of creating income from camels, beyond the traditional use that was limited to transportation. It promoted the milk as a treatment for diabetes, experimented with making ice cream from camel milk, had the wool tested for its marketability, developed paper made from camel dung, and organized the camel breeders into savings groups.

This is still very much a work in progress, since certain interventions, such as setting up a dairy, require major investments by the government or private entrepreneurs.

But seeing the variety of new products from their animals has changed the camel breeders’ attitudes. They had lost faith in what they were doing; now their eyes sparkle with excitement when asked about their camels. The women – traditionally cloistered inside the home – have gone on exposure tours to cow-milk dairies and are impatient to start selling camel milk. Prices for female camels have multiplied within the span of a couple of years because of their perceived potential as milk animals.

Independently of LPPS’s efforts, the market for camels as draft animals has picked up again because of the rise in oil prices, and there seems to be increasing appreciation for the camel as a means of adaptation to climate change.

This story shows that animal genetic resources that have gone out of fashion can make a rapid comeback. And it also demonstrates the potential of niche marketing for conserving animal genetic resources.

–  –  –

from Asia and two from Latin America) about niche marketing of specialty products (wool, cashmere, hides, meat and milk) from goats, sheep, Bactrian camels and dromedaries.

Some sell existing products; others have developed new products from their traditional breeds. Some sell their products in nearby areas; others tap high-value export markets.

All have found ways to create markets for their products through innovative marketing, branding and product design, and by improving organization, production, processing and distribution.

These studies identify some of the important ingredients for successful niche-marketing initiatives with indigenous breeds: the need for an outside agent (a company, an NGO, donor-funded project or the government) to raise awareness about market potential and bring in technical expertise to realize it, the need for investment to develop infrastructure, the need for targeted applied research, the importance of design, the significance of training (including in business skills) and organizational development, the necessity of creating multi-stakeholder platforms between producers, support actors, processors, business people and consumers.

Introduction 11 These initiatives were established with different motivations: mainly to increase the incomes of livestock keepers and other local people, or to establish a profitable business.

Only in a minority of cases was the conservation of the breed itself a major driving concern.


In 2008, the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development (LPP) put out a call for papers on niche marketing for local breeds and minor species. Fourteen suggestions for topics were received – a number that perhaps reflects the small number of relevant experiences in this field worldwide. The eight most appropriate were selected and the authors were invited to submit full manuscripts, following a specific structure. The authors were then invited to a 3-day “writeshop”, which took place in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, on 4–6 December 2008.

During the writeshop, the authors presented their manuscripts in turn. The other participants commented on and critiqued each manuscript. One of the team of three editors then assisted the author to revise the manuscript, and commissioned artwork from the artist who was present. These presentations took one-and-a-half days. The resulting manuscripts form the basis of Chapters 1 to 8 in this book.

During the second half of the writeshop, the participants analysed each of the manuscripts in terms of questions on the problem to be addressed, the risk or opportunity for the breed or species involved, the nature of the niche product, implementation and activities, actors and target audiences, successes, challenges, opportunities and potentials, gender, institution and policy, impact on the environment, and sustainability of the niche marketing effort. They then summarized the answers to these questions. Their discussions and outputs form the basis of Part 4 in this book.

REFERENCES CBD. 1992. Convention on biological diversity. www.cbd.int/convention/convention.shtml FAO. 2006. Livestock’s long shadow: Environmental issues and options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome. (also available at: www.fao.org/docrep/010/ a0701e/a0701e00.htm) FAO. 2007a. Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources and the Interlaken Declaration.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome. (also available at: www.fao.

org/docrep/010/a1404e/a1404e00.htm) FAO. 2007b. The state of the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome. (also available at: www.fao.org/ docrep/010/a1250e/a1250e00.htm) FAO. 2009. Contributions of smallholder farmers and pastoralists to the development, use and conservation of animal genetic resources. CGRFA, ITWG-AnGR, 28–30 January 2009.

(also available at: www.fao.org/ag/againfo/programmes/en/genetics/documents/CGRFA_WG_ AnGR_5_09_Inf_4.pdf Köhler-Rollefson, I., H.S. Rathore, and E. Mathias. 2008. Local breeds, livelihoods and livestock keepers’ rights in South Asia. Tropical Animal Health and Production 41(7): 1061–70.

Adding value to livestock diversity Röling, N. 2009. Conceptual and methodological developments in innovation. Pp. 9–34 in Sanginga, P., A. Waters-Bayer, S. Kaaria, J. Njui and C. Wezzasinha. Innovation Africa: Enriching farmers’ livelihoods. Earthscan: London and Sterling, VA.

UNDP. 2000. Millennium development goals. United Nations Development Programme. www.

undp.org/mdg/ PART 1

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Introduction Despite the boom in demand for livestock products in general, wool production has fallen by one-third since it peaked in 1990 (FAOSTAT 2009), as production of cotton and other natural and artificial fibres has risen. This creates particular problems for small-scale producers of wool and cashmere: they must find ways to market their product in competition not only with larger-scale, more efficient producers, but also compete with other fibres.

This section contains four cases that describe how producers’ associations and development organizations have attempted to overcome these problems:

Marketing wool from an endangered sheep breed in the Deccan Plateau of India Cashmere from the Pamirs: Helping mountain farmers in Kyrgyzstan Spinning a value chain from the Gobi: Camel wool in Mongolia Marketing of handicrafts made from Linca sheep wool in Patagonia, Argentina.

The Indian case describes how an NGO has organized shepherds and processors to produce high-value handicrafts from a seemingly unpromising product – coarse, brown wool.

It shows how a combination of community organizing, product design and entrepreneurial marketing can not only reduce poverty, but also halt the decline of a threatened breed.

The case from Kyrgyzstan looks at the other end of the spectrum in terms of fibre quality: super-fine cashmere. It looks at efforts to help goat raisers in remote mountain areas produce a higher-value product by introducing a cheap, simple technology (combs, which cost a mere $7 each) and to link producers with cashmere buyers in Europe and Japan. That way the goat raisers can earn more than by selling unsorted shorn fleeces at low prices to local traders, and they have an incentive to maintain the local goat breed that produces the finest cashmere.

Camel wool has many properties that make it attractive to hobbyists in the United States. The case from Mongolia tells how a development project and NGO are developing a value chain to link women in southern Mongolia who spin camel wool into yarn with American knitting enthusiasts.

Like the Indian case, finished handicrafts are the focus of the final case in this section. Women in the Andes foothills in Argentina weave coloured wool from a local sheep breed and make ponchos and other traditional items. They sell them to tourists through a community-run sales outlet. This not only earns them money; it also encourages them to maintain the breed that produces the wool.

The value of wool and cashmere depend largely on three characteristics:

Fibre diameter, measured in microns or μm (thousandths of a millimetre). The thicker the fibre, the coarser and heavier the cloth woven from it will be. Thick fibres may cause an itching sensation on the skin; they are used for carpets, bags and insulation.

Intermediate fibres are suitable for garments such as sweaters that are not worn next to the skin, while fine fibres are good for garments that are worn next to the skin.

Not surprisingly, the finest fibres are most valuable.

Adding value to livestock diversity

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Marketing wool from an endangered sheep breed in the Deccan Plateau of India Gopi Krishna, PR Sheshagiri Rao, and Kamal Kishore The hilly Deccan of south-central India stretches away into the heat haze. Patches of trees are interspersed with scattered shrubs. Dry, brown grass alternates with bare, rocky soil.

Down in the valleys it is possible to grow crops, and that is where most of the population

live. Up on the plateau, local people have long ago learned that planting crops is pointless:

the monsoon rains do not last long enough, and the soils are too poor.

The best way to use this semi-arid land is by raising sheep. Enough grass grows in the short rainy season to use as grazing, and the long dry season means that there are few parasites or diseases.

Over centuries, a nomadic system has emerged, with a native sheep breed, known as the Deccani, Dekhani or Deshi, well adapted to the sparse fodder and hot, dry environment. These sheep convert the grass – a resource that would otherwise be unused – into protein and wool. With Hindus forbidden to eat beef, sheep are a major source of meat in India. The sheep also produce a coarse wool that used to be prized as highly as their meat, especially in the cooler, higher parts of the Deccan, but its value has recently declined as textile products from outside have flooded the local market.

The Deccani breed is a distinctive animal. It is small and hardy, with a Roman nose,

drooping ears, thin neck, narrow chest, and prominent spine. It is not a good meat type:

it has flat ribs and produces a poor leg of mutton. Most animals are black, but some are grey or roan (with a mix of white and coloured wool). Shepherds recognize various types in different areas of the Deccan.

THE KURUBAS Some 750 000 families all over the Deccan depend on raising sheep. They belong to various ethnic groups: Gollas, Kurmas, Lambadas and Dalits in Andhra Pradesh; Kurubas, Kaddugollas, Lamanis, Bedars, Gollas and Dalits in Karnataka; Dhanghars, Kurubas and Dalits in Maharashtra; and Kurubas in Tamil Nadu. Some of these groups are traditional sheep rearers; others have taken up sheep-raising more recently. Many of the sheep rearers are members of cooperative societies; over 5 000 such societies exist throughout the area.

The Kurubas are the traditional sheep keepers in the districts of Belgaum, Bagalkot, Koppal, Dharwar and Haveri, in northern Karnataka. One of the oldest communities in India, they are semi-nomadic, moving with their flocks for between 3 and 9 months a year.

They also lease some land for part of the year to grow crops such as sorghum, wheat, maize, oil seeds, minor millets and cotton.

Adding value to livestock diversity

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