Livestock Roles in the Well being of Rural Communities
Livestock play very important economic, social and cultural roles or functions for rural households.
They help to improve the income and well being of the family of the farmers.
Livestock helps to increase food supply, family nutrition, family income, asset savings, soil productivity, transportation, agricultural traction, agricultural diversification and sustainable agricultural production among others.
According to the FAO, of the many different ways that livestock can be classified, there are two widely used classifications which are based on the kinds of output produced or in the uses in which these outputs are put on.
Among the kinds of output produced it should be mentioned the food, inputs to cropping, and raw materials.
Among output uses, subsistence consumption by the livestock holder’s household, direct supply of inputs, cash income through sales of live animals or their output, savings and investment and social functions such as paying bride wealth, or providing animals for communal feasts or sacrifices can be pointed out.
Livestock serves as an important contribution for food supply of rural and urban areas and contributes to the family nutrition, supplying animal protein.
Livestock also feature as a form of savings that can be converted into cash whenever the family needs it. It serves as a form of security asset influencing access to informal credits and loans and being also a source of collateral for loans.
We see a good example of livestock being a form of security asset as Angola agrees to receive 75,000 cattle over the period of 10 years from Chad which means it has accepted payment of $1.333 per animal.
In many rural regions, in special where financial markets are absent or non-existent, livestock stocks or herds are a source of asset accumulation and a measure of prosperity.
Livestock is a source of energy providing draught animal power while manure improves soil structure and fertility as well as water retention. Both uses are environmentally friendly improving energy and nutrient cycling.