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Land-Use Change and Livestock Production Challenges in an Integrated System: The Masai-Mara Ecosystem, Kenya

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  • Murang'a university of Technology

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Participatory rural appraisal techniques and a survey of 100 households were used to evaluate livestock production, and pastoral development of the Maasai in Mara. It was observed that patterns of land-use have principally changed from nomadic pastoralism to sedentary pastoralism, agropastoralism, and, in some cases, pure cultivation. These trends have adversely affected livestock production and the productive capacity of the Mara ecosystem. Diminishing grazing area occasioned by expanding cropping patterns has negatively impacted on vegetation resources and the biodiversity of the ecosystem. It has also increased the intensity of conflict over diminishing land resources. Because the production system is largely subsistence with a strong livestock base, it is further undermined by, among other factors, animal diseases, water scarcity, land individualisation, poor marketing infrastructure, and livestock/wildlife conflicts. Based on the findings of the present study, development approaches need to emphasise integrated livestock and wildlife utilisation, land tenure reforms that embody livestock mobility as a key strategy of optimising the use of transient forage resources, disease control, and development of livestock marketing.
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© Kamla-Raj 2009 J Hum Ecol, 26(3): 163-173 (2009)
Land-Use Change and Livestock Production Challenges in an
Integrated System: The Masai-Mara Ecosystem, Kenya
D. M. Nyariki,a,1, A. W. Mwang’ombeb and D. M. Thompsonc
aDepartment of Land Resource Management & Agricultural Technology, bDepartment of Plant
Science and Crop Protection, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya
cDepartment of Anthropology, University College of London, London, U .K.
1E-mail: dicksonnyariki@yahoo.com
KEYWORDS Commercialization of Pastoral Production. Kenya’s Semi-arid Lands. Integrated Land Management.
Livelihoods. Pastoral Development. Masai Mara
ABSTRACT Participatory rural appraisal techniques and a survey of 100 households were used to evaluate livestock
production, and pastoral development of the Maasai in Mara. It was observed that patterns of land-use have
principally changed from nomadic pastoralism to sedentary pastoralism, agropastoralism, and, in some cases, pure
cultivation. These trends have adversely affected livestock production and the productive capacity of the Mara
ecosystem. Diminishing grazing area occasioned by expanding cropping patterns has negatively impacted on vegetation
resources and the biodiversity of the ecosystem. It has also increased the intensity of conflict over diminishing land
resources. Because the production system is largely subsistence with a strong livestock base, it is further undermined
by, among other factors, animal diseases, water scarcity, land individualisation, poor marketing infrastructure, and
livestock/wildlife conflicts. Based on the findings of the present study, development approaches need to emphasise
integrated livestock and wildlife utilisation, land tenure reforms that embody livestock mobility as a key strategy of
optimising the use of transient forage resources, disease control, and development of livestock marketing.
INTRODUCTION
Mara area in Narok District is part of the arid
and semi-arid lands (ASALs) that comprise 80
per cent of Kenya’s landmass, including
rangelands that support extensive livestock
operations and wildlife. These areas are home to
pastoralists who form 20 per cent of the Kenyan
population. Pastoralists occupy 74 per cent of
the ASALs and own 60 per cent of cattle and 80
per cent of sheep and goats (GOK 1994).
Livestock production is a major component
of the Maasai economy and indeed the Kenyan
economy, and goes well beyond direct food
production. It contributes about 10 per cent of
the gross domestic product (GDP). In pastoral
areas such as the Mara region, sales of livestock
provide direct cash income to the Maasai
pastoralists. Livestock are the living bank for
most of these people and in some areas have an
important role in the agricultural intensification
process through provision of capital for
investment. They are also closely linked to the
social and cultural lives of most of the Maasai
community for whom animal ownership ensures
varying degrees of sustainable production and
the stability of the domestic economy. Thus,
livestock have a multipurpose contribution to
meeting food security, agricultural production and
social/cultural obligations.
Over the years, patterns of land-use have
changed in the ASALs from, principally, nomadic
pastoralism to sedentary pastoral and agro-
pastoral production, or to pure cultivation
(Muriuki et al. 2005). This trend has in most cases
adversely affected livestock production and the
productive capacity of these lands. Vast areas of
these lands are experiencing some degree of
degradation. This has been precipitated by
unprecedented population growth, excessive
cropping pressure and overgrazing. Overgrazing
on these lands is particularly impacting negatively
on vegetation resources and biodiversity in
general. That is, while moderate grazing is
necessary to maintain a range ecosystem, severe
grazing affects biodiversity, productivity,
carrying capacity and soil fertility, which in
extreme cases lead to desertification.
Recent interventions in Mara, such as land
privatisation and appropriation to create ranching
schemes or to give room to cropping have often
generated negative rates of return, and favoured
wealthier households (McCathy and Swallow
1999). These interventions have largely replaced
nomadic pastoralism, which in many ways has
been a successful adaptation to the relatively dry
164 D. M. NYARIKI, A. W. MWANG’OMBE AND D. M. THOMPSON
and fragile ecosystem. Herders have, as a result,
lost prime grazing lands, especially in low-lying
plains to create room for the cultivation of maize,
wheat and other crops. Unfortunately, cropping
in the Mara ecosystem inherently increases the
intensity of conflicts, as there is less compatible
interaction between crops and wildlife than
between livestock and wildlife. As the number of
people increases, so does the need for food in
terms of livestock products and grain. In the
absence of increased livestock production, there
is necessarily a reduction in the number of
livestock per person, implying that the supply of
milk and meat is reduced, increasing the need to
supplement household diets.
Declining livestock production and
productivity is likely to have devastating
implications for many aspects of the Maasai
lifestyle. This community is still basically a
livestock culture. Thus, if the living standards
and food security of the Mara region are to be
improved, then livestock productivity has to be
increased. Yet, at the same time, it is important
that steps taken to raise livestock productivity
should be in harmony with the potentially
conflicting objectives of conservation and
tourism, and possibly grain production.
Therefore, the major aim of this study was to
investigate how livestock production and
productivity could be improved under the
framework of a special conservation status as
exists within the Mara ecosystem.
METHOD OF STUDY
A total sample of 100 households was
randomly selected for questionnaire interviews
in the Mara region during October 1999 to
February 2000. Further interviews were done with
the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
Development personnel. Group discussions with
the local leaders through PRAs were also
undertaken. To ensure success of the interviews,
enumerators were recruited from the local
administrative sub-locations to avoid the
language barrier and also ensure co-operation.
The areas (clusters) visited for questionnaire
interviews were Aitong, Emorijoi, Talek, and
Lemek. Homesteads (manyattas) were visited both
in the morning and evenings. At the PRA meetings
the Maasai elders, in addition to participating in
identifying important livestock resources in their
location, were asked about the problems related
to their livestock, the causes of these problems
and priorities for development. Information was
also obtained from literature review of
government reports and other publications.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Past and Emerging Production Systems
About 68 per cent of Narok District is
rangeland, which in the past has provided prime
grazing for nomadic pastoralism or ranching. Mara
area was formerly organised into three group
ranches—Lemek, Koiyaki and Olchoro
Oirowua—in which livestock were privately
owned while grazing land was communal, and
capital developments were carried out by the
groups. Initially, group ranches were established
in Maasai rangelands (in Kaputiei Section of
Kajiado District) in accordance with the Land
(Group Representatives) Act Cap. 287 of the Laws
of Kenya. These ranches were later introduced in
other districts of the country including Narok.
As a result of the problems that beset the ranches,
especially those related to poor management
emanating from wrong assumptions, they failed
to achieve the intended objectives of improved
livestock production, reduced overgrazing and
increased environmental conservation. Pressure
has since intensified to subdivide the ranches
into individual parcels. In Mara, parcelling has
been completed and title deeds issued in some
areas. The sizes of individual land range between
20ha and 80ha. The effect of land subdivision in
this area has been the shifting of the mode of
livestock production, which historically has been
nomadic pastoralism, to several subsystems.1
Table 1 summarises the current modes of
production in four areas of Mara—Talek, Aitong
(Ngoswani), Lemek (Nkorinkori) and Emorijoi. As
can be seen in the table, there are mainly three
modes, i.e., full-time livestock husbandry,
livestock husbandry with subsidiary cropping,
and cropping with or without subsidiary livestock
husbandry.
Livestock in Mara were managed by herding.
Herding of mature animals was done by adult
family members (mainly male but also female) and
or hired labour. Young members of the family herd
small stock and young cattle (mainly calves).
Females, especially the wife or wives of the male
livestock owner, did the milking.
165
LAND-USE CHANGE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
Livestock Production
Breeds and Herd Structure: The main
livestock breeds kept in Mara are the Small East
African Zebu (SEAZ) or the indigenous Masai
cattle, the Small East African Goat (SEAG), and
Red (Brown) Masai Sheep and Black-headed
Somali Sheep. The Sahiwal and Boran have been
introduced in drier areas for beef production, while
the Aryshire and the Freisian dairy cattle, and
their crosses were being encouraged in the wetter
areas with lower disease prevalence and other
stresses. The Dorper sheep, the Toggenburg goat
and crosses are also increasingly being
introduced. The local breeds are, however, well
adapted to the relatively harsh environment,
infested with tsetse flies and tick-borne diseases
in addition to frequent droughts.
Table 2 gives a breakdown of ownership of
cattle and small stock. During the dry season
(June to October), animals are moved over long
distances, and not infrequently across districts
(mainly to Trans Mara) to look for water (provided
by non-seasonal rivers and springs) and grazing.
At this time of the year when animals are trekked
over vast distances, most of the households hold
back small stock, especially sheep, which can
utilise the short stubble of grass.
Main activity
Full-time livestock
keeping
Livestock keeping
with subsidiary
cropping
Cropping with/without
subsidiary livestock
husbandry
No home base; year
round movement
A few households in
Talek and Aitonga (3%)
-
-
Area and degree of
mobility
Home base; seasonal
movement of animals
Transhumant pastoralists in
Talek and Aitong (52%)
Transhumant agro-
pastoralists in Aitong and
Lemek (5%)
-
Home base; local movements
Sedentary pastoralists in Talek,
Aitong and Lemek (20%)
Sedentary agro-pastoralists in
Aitong and Lemek (5%)
Maize, beans and/or wheat
farmers in Emorijoi and
Lemek (15%)
Table 1: Classification of the modes of agricultural production in Mara
Area Species of Average number Per cent
livestock of livestock per households
household owning
livestock
Table 2: Livestock access per household in Mara
by location
Talek Cattle 157 96
Sheep 160 96
Goats 9 96
Aitong Cattle 177 67
Sheep 100 67
Goats 70 67
EmorijoiaCattle 0 0
Sheep 0 0
Goats 0 0
Lemek Cattle 99 93
Sheep 117 86
Goats 64 93
Table 3 presents the herd structure
(percentages in brackets) in three areas of
livestock production. The table shows that even
though more than half of the herd were females, a
very small proportion (as low as 10.8 per cent in
Talek) of the herd were calves. A large number of
cows were dry (as high as 26.3 per cent in Lemek),
implying that either conception and calving rates
were low or calf mortality was high or both. The
total sample shows almost the same structure—
Area No. of No. of No. of No. of No. of No. of Total
calves milk cows bulls steers heifers non-milk cows
Talek 17(10.8) 18(11.5) 8(5.0) 30(19.1) 34(21.7) 37(23.6) 157(100)
Aitong 33(18.6) 35(19.8) 19(10.7) 60(33.9) 37(20.9) 40(22.6) 177(100)
Lemek 22(22.2) 22(22.2) 7(7.1) 15(15.2) 20(20.2) 26(26.3) 99(100)
Total sample 22(16.3) 23(17.0) 9(6.7) 28(20.7) 29(21.5) 32(23.7) 135(100)
aSeparate categories do not add up to 100 per cent because respondents could not give accurate figures.
Table 3: Household herd structurea
aThis is settled area with peasants of Kisii ethnicity (most
of them squatters) doing only cropping.
166 D. M. NYARIKI, A. W. MWANG’OMBE AND D. M. THOMPSON
16.3 per cent calves, over 50 per cent cows and
23.7 per cent dry cows. With respect to beef
production as an objective, these herds were
therefore poor producers. However, pastoralists
in Aitong area seem to be in possession of better
herds as the proportion of calves is much higher
(18.6 per cent) and the number of steers is close
to what is expected of a fairly market-oriented
extensive and low capital beef production system.
Herd and Flock Recruitment: The rate of
herd or flock recruitment can be estimated from
the calving, lambing or kidding rate. In a herd or
flock, recruitment is influenced by the birth of
live animals, mortality, abortions and infertility.
These factors are in turn affected by the
availability of forage, disease and other
management variables.
From the data, a herd of 70 mature females
(ready for service) is expected to have, on average,
22 calves in a year. This translates to a calving
rate of about 30 per cent. Since out of 100 only 30
females, ready for service, calve down a year, it
can be estimated that the calving interval per
animal was likely to be more than a year in a
number of these herds, probably 2-3 years. A few
households in fact reported that their cows gave
a calf once every two years. The proportion of
calves in the herd was quite low (16.3 per cent for
the whole sample) despite the high proportion of
cows (62.2 per cent for the sample) in the herd.
The rate of recruitment was therefore low and
could not sustain the cattle population growth to
keep up with human population increases in the
long term. With no growth in owned herds,
commercialisation cannot be improved, unless
cattle were to be brought in from outside. Thus
per capita availability of milk and meat was bound
to decline if improved breeds were not introduced.
For small stock—sheep and goats—the rates
of lambing and kidding are naturally higher
because their intervals are shorter and twinning
is fairly common. For 50 mature females, 38 lambs
or kids are given a year, implying that kidding
rate may be as high as 76 per cent a year. Even
though these were very rough estimates, these
rates were much lower than those found in
commercial ranches in other parts of Kenya,
where calving and lambing or kidding rates of 50-
70 per cent and over 100 per cent have been
recorded respectively (Nyariki 1999).
Milk Production and Marketing: The
indigenous Masai cattle produce milk which is
mainly used for home consumption. The results
indicated that milk output per cow was low.
Generally, the indigenous cow is a low milk
producer, even though the survey was carried
out during the dry season. On average, the
number of milked cows per household per day
was only 12, out of 23 cows that had calves. This
implied that only about 50 per cent of cows with
calves were producing enough milk for the calf
and a surplus for household consumption. The
average amount of milk produced was 4.3 litres
per household per day. With 12 cows being milked,
this translates to about 0.2-0.4 litres per cow per
day. However, during the rains, the amount of
milk produced per cow was said to more than
double—to approximately 1-2 litres a day. The
figures in this survey compare fairly closely with
those obtained by Field, Moll and Sonkoi (1997)
in Ngorongoro, Tanzania, who found that during
the rainy season, the Maasai of Ngorongoro
could on average get 1.1-4.5 litres of milk per cow
a day. They also reported that in the arid region
of northern Kenya, pastoralists achieved a year-
round average of 0.3 litres of milk a cow a day.
Figures obtained for the Maasai of Mara compare
well with those of earlier studies of the same
community. For example, Dahl and Hjort (1976)
estimated the production of milk by the Masai
zebu at 0.5kg per cow per day.
Selling of milk is rarely done, as milk is a staple
foodstuff and its production frequently fails to
meet household demand. The district livestock
reports indicated, however, that milk was normally
hawked in small quantities in townships and
trading centres when it was produced in excess
of household requirements, mainly during the wet
season. But these reports also support the
findings of the current study; that there was little
milk selling going on in the pastoral Maasai areas.
Several constraints were observed to hinder
the expansion of milk production and marketing
in the study area. The most important include
underdeveloped rural markets for milk, keeping
of large numbers of cows unsuitable for milk
production, shortage of capital to invest in
handling and processing facilities and poor and
worsening rural infrastructure, particularly roads.
There were four small milk co-operatives in the
district involved in milk buying and selling. The
revival of the giant Kenya Co-operative
Creameries (New KCC) has, however, improved
milk selling. Milk was also sold by hawking, to
hotels and food kiosks in towns and small trading
centres, at low prices.
167
LAND-USE CHANGE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
Meat Production: The composition of the
pastoral herd in Mara shows that cattle are kept
both for milk and meat, even though milk is the
main priority. The average picture was depicted
by the herd structure in Table 3. About 21 per
cent of the herd was composed of steers and 7
per cent were bulls. This gave 28 per cent of the
herd as potential meat source. The data indicated
that few of the cattle were consumed at home,
based on the low number of cattle slaughter
(about two per year in Talek) for home
consumption. Steers are sold for slaughter
outside the household either within or outside
the district.
A large proportion of meat consumed at home
came from the small stock, mainly sheep and
goats. A number of households reported to have
slaughtered 4 sheep and 4 goats every year.
These figures look small probably because they
do not include the animals consumed after natural
mortality. The number of animals consumed at
home is thus affected by deaths as most of these
animals are also eaten, unless they are too young
or are eaten by predators. Natural deaths may
constitute up to 50 per cent of household
consumption requirement. Table 4 gives the
average figures of deliberate home-slaughter of
cattle, sheep and goats for the three livestock
areas surveyed in Mara.
As a depiction of the level of commerciali-
sation, Table 6 shows the number of animals sold
and percentages of households selling. The table
provides offtake rates for the three surveyed areas
and the total sample.2 These are very low offtake
rates compared with those from commercial
ranches in Laikipia, which are between 20 and 25
per cent (Nyariki, 1999). The low offtake rates
confirm the historical contention that pastoral
production systems are not market-oriented. The
figures provided by government officials are
normally much higher than what the household
survey respondents disclosed as their sales (1-2
per cent per year) (Table 5). It is believed that the
local community underestimated the sales. This
was because the survey data indicated that they
visit cattle markets once a month, on average.
The enumerators revealed that the Maasai traders
and livestock producers feared being robbed by
outsiders if they gave their turnover figures.
These robberies are increasingly becoming
common after large sales have been made, as
insecurity has grown.
A few respondents indicated that animals
exchanged hands from one household to another
in trade involving middlemen. Some of these
middlemen brought in animals from across the
border, especially from Tanzania for sale in Kenya,
because of favourable price differentials. Most
of the cattle from outside end up at the Dagoretti
abattoir in Nairobi for slaughter. It is therefore
likely that the sales given in the district records
do not originate solely in Kenya.
The proportion of steers and male sheep and
goats in the Maasai herds and flocks can be used
to exemplify the potential for meat production in
Table 4: Home-slaughter figures per household
per year
Area No. of cattle No. of sheep No. of goats
Talek 1.7 3.1 3.4
Aitong 0.0 3.0 3.4
Lemek 0.0 8.5 2.0
Total sample 1.2 4.4 3.2
Sales of Live Animals for Slaughter: Cattle
are occasionally sold for cash, especially during
drought, to purchase grains and to also meet other
domestic needs such as fees and medical expenses.
Sheep and goats are also sold for quick cash,
especially when the demand for cash is not much.
In fact, unless there is some degree of
commercialisation, which according to the survey
results seemed to be low, the Maasai prefer selling
small stock rather than cattle. It was reported that
cattle were sold mainly during the dry season. This
is apparently to reduce losses and the vulnerability
of households to severe food insecurity during
this period. Therefore livestock play an important
role in the Maasai food security cycle.
Location Livestock Number Per cent Per cent
species of live- sales house-
stock/sold (offtake holds
household rate) selling
Table 5: Household livestock sales in Mara by
location
Talek Cattle 4.7 3 87.5
Sheep 3.3 2.1 72
Goats 1 11.1 66.7
Aitong Cattle 13 7.3 50
Sheep 0 0 0
Goats 8.5 12.1 40
Lemek Cattle 19.6 19.8 34.6
Sheep 29 24.8 16.7
Goats 4.3 6.7 15.4
Total sample Cattle 10.1 7.5 57.4
Sheep 6.8 5.2 44.1
Goats 2.8 6.5 39.3
168 D. M. NYARIKI, A. W. MWANG’OMBE AND D. M. THOMPSON
Livestock Marketing System
Livestock marketing is considered an
essential part of livestock production from
pastoral herds because increased production is
unlikely to be sustained in these areas unless the
product can be traded. Thus, livestock marketing
is the ultimate step in the livestock production
process. The key to increased production lies in
the motivation of producers through an efficient
marketing system. Motivation of producers is
harnessed by incentives such as credit, inputs
and, most importantly, marketing. Herders’ income
to be used to meet household requirements—
clothes, school fees, medication, grain, etc.—
depends on an efficient marketing system.
Kenya’s livestock marketing system evolved
from a colonial system designed to safeguard and
guarantee European settlers a market free from
competition by indigenous Kenyans. By
independence, the country inherited a parastatal
marketing system that also monopolised the
processing of livestock and products (Aldington
and Wilson 1968; Mutai 1986). The livestock-
oriented parastatals included the Kenya Meat
Commission (KMC). There were also functional
extra-KMC organised markets and the Livestock
Marketing Division (LMD)—a division of one of
the government ministries—that provided inlets
and outlets of ranch and pastoral stocks.
At independence, the KMC was seen to
render adequate marketing services, but later this
parastatal deteriorated and it was no longer self-
supporting, and collapsed soon after each of
several intermittent efforts to rehabilitate it. (This
parastatal has again recently been revived and
promises to operate profitably.) The LMD that
was, among others, charged with the purchase of
low-value stock from the overstocked districts
as part of a destocking programme and assisting
in putting a floor price for the cattle from pastoral
areas, by acting as buyer of last resort, also
stopped giving these services. Pastoralists,
therefore, depend mainly on livestock dealers to
market their animals. In Mara area in particular
and Narok District in general, almost all cattle and
small stock trade is informal or private. Buying
and selling is done at auctions, privately arranged.
The government’s participation in this is through
provision of infrastructure in the form of holding
grounds and sale yards. Government auction
yards are, however, being shunned by
pastoralists as they are not conveniently located.
The yards are not secure, and as soon as sales
are made some of the pastoralists are attacked
and robbed of their sale proceeds. There are also
several small slaughterhouses in towns, but these
cannot handle large numbers and the main sales
are for onward transmission to either Dagoretti in
Nairobi or KMC in Athi River.
The problem with private sales is that the
process creates room for livestock dealers
(middlemen) to exploit pastoralists. This is
illustrated by the figures shown in Table 7 (the
number of animals sold in brackets). It can be
seen that in some cases a producer loses as much
as 42 per cent of the potential income per animal
Animal No. of No. of Per cent
animals mature males mature males
Cattle 157 38 24.0
Sheep 160 40 25.0
Goatsa9 2 22.0
aThe number of goats was small because most of them
had been moved to Trans Mara due to drought.
Table 6: Proportion of steers and mature males of
cattle, sheep and goats in Talek
Place Steers Bulls Cows Sheep Goats
Farm-gate 9,800(87) 8,000(12) 10,000(9) 1,500(60) 1,028(16)
Narok 14,000(1164)a14,000(299) 12,000(1164)a1,650(1,380)b1,300(1,581)
Difference in price 4,200 6,000 2,000 150 272
aThe figure in brackets includes both steers and cows.
bIncludes only hair and wool sheep.
Table 7: Prices (KSh) of cattle, sheep and goats at the farm-gate in Talek and Narok (Ewaso Nyiro) auction
yard
Mara. Table 6 shows this information from the
household survey data, using Talek as an
example.
Since only 3-4 per cent of males are needed in
the herd or flock for breeding, 20 per cent of the
herd or flock can be fattened as castrates to
provide meat. This then could improve offtake
rates.
169
LAND-USE CHANGE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
(in the case of bulls) when he sells at the farm-
gate through livestock middlemen. This has
tended to keep prices unfairly low. We should,
however, not ignore the fact that livestock dealers
have provided useful service to pastoralists in
the absence of official markets; they assemble
livestock from producers that are selling a few
animals and are situated far from markets. Instead
of trekking a few livestock to Nairobi, Narok Town,
Trans Mara or Bomet Districts, which is costly
and tedious, the private dealer buys animals at
the farm-gate and stocks them in trucks to deficit
areas or to slaughterhouses or butchers.
Various factors are negatively affecting
livestock marketing in Narok. One of the most
serious is deteriorating infrastructure. The roads
are very poor and are discouraging truckers to
penetrate certain areas located far from market
centres. Pastoralists from these areas are then
forced to trek their animals over long distances,
distances of over 100km, frequently up to Nairobi.
This has several problems. One, animals lose
condition and fetch low prices. Two, pastoralists
risk being attacked either before or after sales.
Three, pastoralists become price-takers when they
present animals for sale as their bargaining power
is reduced because of difficulties of doing turn-
round treks with the animals.
Another factor that reduces the efficiency of
marketing is the unavailability of trucks.
Pastoralists are unable to organise themselves
and pool resources to buy their own trucks and
this makes them weak in bargaining, so they are
easily exploited.
Livestock Diseases
Control over livestock diseases is essential
to successful animal production and marketing.
This is as important in pastoral herding as in the
more intensive systems of production, as poor
animal health is a major constraint to livestock
productivity. In pastoral areas, animal health
facilities are scanty and where they exist they are
concentrated in urban and peri-urban areas.
Except for certain disease control programmes
(e.g., control of notifiable diseases) that have had
spectacular results, most are of questionable
effectiveness (Mogoa and Nyangito 1999).
In the Maasai traditional livestock production,
livestock heath is mainly affected by long distance
movement in search of water and pasture, poor
conditions of hygiene in night bomas, predatory
attacks, nutritional stresses, and transmission of
diseases between the livestock and from wildlife.
All these factors influence one another to some
extent.
Lessening the effect of disease in pastoral
herds has become more difficult as cultivation
and other activities have eaten into pastoral
territory. In the past, pastoralists could reduce an
accumulation of certain predisposing factors to
disease by applying nomadic pastoral techniques
such as moving between and within seasons to
safe areas, and avoiding areas of high disease
incidence, such as those infested with tsetse flies.
As they continue being squeezed into smaller
territory, they face a new situation that requires
new approaches to disease control.
District reports catalogue the common
diseases in Narok and their impact in relation to
the number of animals affected. In the villages,
not many households complained of significant
losses of animals through diseases during this
study. However, the diseases cited as the most
common and serious included Foot and Mouth
Disease (FMD), Trypanosomosis, Anaplasmosis,
Lumpy Skin Disease, Malignant Catarrh,
Contagious Bovine Pleuro-pneumonia (CBPP),
Caprine Pleuro-pneumonia (CPP), Nairobi Sheep
Disease, East Coast Fever (ECF), and
Helminthiosis.
A number of the mentioned diseases are
notifiable (except CPP, Malignant Catarrh,
Anaplasmosis, Nairobi Sheep Disease and
Helmithiosis). A large number of them are tick-
borne and can be controlled easily. There are
frequent outbreaks of these diseases. For example,
in 1998, there was an outbreak in Mara of FMD,
which affected cattle, sheep and goats. This
resulted in a number of deaths. Vaccination for
prevention was undertaken and quarantine was
effected to stop the spread of the disease.
Disease control efforts, especially prevention,
in the area are not impressive. There are, for
example, 127 dips in the district, but only 50 (only
those supported by the county council) are
currently functioning. These dips are also not
well distributed. Tick-borne diseases (both
internal and external) as a result have become
endemic. There is usually an upsurge of these
diseases during the wet season as grass is one of
the main habitats of ticks. Also, virtually no
control of Trypanosomosis is instituted, making
it endemic as well. The two groups of disease
dominate clinical cases in Mara. Most pastoralists
170 D. M. NYARIKI, A. W. MWANG’OMBE AND D. M. THOMPSON
now depend mainly on treatment rather than
prevention of these diseases and costs of control
are high. Veterinarians have taken advantage of
this and are charging exorbitantly for treatments.
It was reported that the veterinarians also take
the pastoralists advantage of by cheating on
diagnosis and medicines, again leading to an
escalation of treatment costs.
Other Factors Affecting Livestock Development
Water Availability: As in many other ASAL
areas, water is a scarce resource in many parts of
Mara. Few areas in Narok District can be said to
be suitable for rain-fed agriculture based on the
annual average rainfall and number of days of
rain. Where long-term average annual rainfall is
below 750mm, these areas are better used for
grazing. In 1998, however, some stations in the
district recorded impressive amounts of rain, but
it should be remembered that this was an
extraordinary year of the El Nino phenomenon.
The annual average for that year was 1,028mm
compared to an average of about 626mm in 1997,
indicating that most of the district is best used as
rangeland. Even as a livestock zone, frequent
droughts take a toll on the condition and numbers
of animals. Usually the breeding herd (cows and
young calves) are most affected.
Rainfall affects the seasonality of water
sources and quantities available from these
sources. As human population rises, so does the
need for more water, both for the people and their
animals. Localised limited supplies of water lead
to overgrazing and trampling by cattle with a
serious negative environmental impact.
Land Individuation and Cultivation: By the
nature of pastoral production, large territories are
required for efficient management of livestock.
Pastoralism sets a unique relationship between
people, livestock and land. As the main
components of land—grass, shrubs, water—vary
both in time and space, mobility is an important
aspect of pastoral production (Swift 1977). That
is, opportunism and tracking become key
resource use strategies (Sandford 1983) with
livestock mobility flattening peaks in grazing
pressure and allowing the use of feed resources
that are periodically available (De leeuw et al.
1999). Mobility does take place too to take
advantage of other situations, such as
exploitation of some specific resources (e.g.,
available water or salts), or provide escape from
hazardous situations such as increased
incidences of disease. Pastoralists thus adapt
nomadically to their environment when their
adaptation requires movement beyond their home
base or when alternatively there is a greater
advantage in maximising mobility. Mobility
necessitates reciprocal user rights of communally
owned resources. This quid pro quo exchange
of use rights is the basis for the non-exclusive
tenure and land-use regimes characteristic of
pastoral Africa (Behnke 1993).
The Maasai pastoralists of Narok (and those
in Kajiado and Samburu Districts), who for
centuries have relied on pastoralism for
subsistence seem to be at a crossroads. Their
customary owned land that possesses common
pool resources—involving the age-old sharing
of resources by the family unit through to clans
and the Maasai community—have been or are
being privatised through sub-division into
individual holdings. The provision of title deeds
has opened up large tracts of land that has been
supporting large numbers of livestock to
speculators and cultivators.
The pressure to sub-divide land came from
Maasai political leaders who saw a threat to
communal ranch land from non-Maasai
communities. They supported the parcelling of
land among members of group ranches. This was
resisted by a few, especially the young people,
who feared they may become landless through
the new arrangement. But they did not succeed
because the government, as the trustee, gave in
to pressure. The policy makers then focussed on
agriculture and had little regard for the Maasai
pastoral production. Cropping was therefore
given priority on pastoral land.
The failure of communal ranching stemmed
primarily from the fact that the Maasai who were
to be settled into organised farming did not
embrace the concept. Also, anticipated benefits
of having commercial stocks did not improve and
breeding of quality cattle did not increase.
Common resources and facilities—cattle deeps,
water holes and access pastures—were too a
constant source of conflicts, and management
committees lacked popular mandate.
Privatisation into smaller individual holdings
is for the registered members of the group
ranches. Registration was stopped in the early
1980s, when most of the registers were closed.
There were large loans from the Agricultural
Finance Corporation (AFC) that had to be paid
171
LAND-USE CHANGE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
before issuance of title deeds could take place.
The loans were used to purchase livestock and
put up facilities such as dips. Group ranch
committees on behalf of the members whose land
was used as collateral guaranteed the loans.
Soon after sub-division, land was no longer
under the care of the community and the
neighbouring communities started purchasing the
parcels from individuals. In Mara, large areas have
already been sub-divided and in some other parts
sub-division is still continuing. In the whole of
Narok District, over 50,000 hectares of the sub-
divided land has already been sold to peasant
farmers from mainly the Kisii, Kalenjin and Kikuyu
communities. More of the rest is under short- or
long-term leases for commercial wheat and barley
farming (Sunday Standard, 10th October 1999).
Some peasants have settled as squatters under
an agreement with the Maasai landowners, akin
to the ‘feudal’ system, where the peasant
cultivators give a portion of the harvest to the
landowners. According to some of the
respondents in Mara, settlements such as these
have been the source of tribal conflicts in the
recent past.
Large-scale wheat, barley and maize farming
has pushed pastoralists further into marginal
areas as more land is put under crops. With no
reduction in the herd sizes, this exposes the land
to overuse and degradation. Another negative
impact regarding cultivation is that when the
fertility of cultivated areas goes down and the
lessees are not realising profits, they abandon
the farms and open up new sites. The abandoned
sites are then exposed to erosion. In addition,
these sites, after having been cleared of natural
vegetation including grass, have their soil seed
banks depleted through the use of herbicides. It
then takes long before vegetation appears so that
they may be useful once again to the pastoralists.
This is not new or unique to Mara. It has happened
in other dry areas, especially where recess or flood
irrigation is practised, such as the north-eastern
parts of Ethiopia (Alemu et al. 1999) and Kenya.
Furthermore, when land is at stake for cultivation,
no reference is made to agricultural technical
persons as to the suitability of the soils,
topography and location with respect to water
catchments (GOK 1999). As a result gullies are
now a common feature in many areas.
What is emerging from the sub-division of
group ranches is that even the Maasai have
adopted agro-pastoralism, after running into
difficulties with sedentary pastoralism. Rain-fed
agriculture mainly through farming associations
is taking root, especially after the bumper harvest
occasioned by the El Nino rains of 1998. It is
now being realised that this was short-lived
experience.
One major problem related to livestock/wildlife
management vis-à-vis individualisation of land
is that the Mara area serves as a wildlife dispersal
area. How can cultivation be avoided in the future
in this area as a conservation policy? True, this
was private land under group ranching even
before individualisation. But it is much easier to
implement conservation policy under group
interests rather than under many and differing
individual interests. Yet another potential problem
is that when land was being individualised the
creation of corridors to water points, salt licks
and other public utilities like dips was ignored. In
fact, some water resources and salt licks were
privatised. Issues related to future access to
these utilities and natural resources are potentially
explosive. A related issue is that of livestock
mobility. As alluded to earlier, mobility is an
important tenet of pastoral production. How
mobility will be ensured in future under
individualised land tenure system remains a big
question.
Wildlife: Conflicts between pastoralists and
their livestock on the one hand and wildlife and
conservationists on the other are not new. For
example, the Maasai and Parakuyo of Tanzania
took their government to court over their expulsion
and exclusion from the Mkomazi game reserve
(Rogers et al. 1999). Creation of game parks/
reserves deprives pastoralists of important dry
season grazing and, thus, precipitates conflict.
Mara area has not been left out in this respect.
Several deaths of livestock and even losses of
human lives in the recent past have been
attributed to wildlife. The most common losses
of livestock were those related to predation by
lions and other animals. Loss of human life (it
was estimated at 7 people in Mara in one year
during this study) was associated with elephant
attacks.
Wildlife reduce forage and water available to
livestock. The elephant, wildebeest and zebra are
heavy consumers of pasture. In addition,
elephants destroy forests (subjecting land to
erosion), manyattas, and night bomas.
Transmission of certain livestock diseases is
aided by wildlife. Control of diseases is also made
172 D. M. NYARIKI, A. W. MWANG’OMBE AND D. M. THOMPSON
difficult as vaccination of wildlife cannot be
undertaken, nor can quarantines be imposed on
them. Thus the health of the animals is affected
and the veterinary care costs are escalated.
Furthermore, wildlife increase costs of maintaining
manyattas, fences of bomas and other structures,
at least indirectly through labour and vegetation.
With reduced poaching in the last few years,
there has been an upsurge of wildlife numbers,
especially the elephants. This has worsened the
negative impact on livestock. For those
households practising agro-pastoralism,
including farming associations, costs are being
incurred in direct destruction of crops and fences.
This is particularly serious at the geographical
interface between the Mara Game Reserve and
individualised cropland. Here elephants are
destroying even strong electric fences.
The indirect influence of wildlife conservation
on livestock production in areas adjacent to Mara
Game Reserve is that group and individual
landowners have turned their land into wildlife
sanctuaries and have developed tented camps.
This may replace pastoralism in the long-run in
these areas.
Whilst there are many negative impacts of
wildlife, there are also positive ones. The funds
collected from tented camps can be used to
improve on livestock. This money can also be
viewed as compensation for wildlife use of land
resources. Pastoralists are further benefiting
directly by forming local bodies that collect fees
from tourists. There are two such bodies in
Mara—Koiyaki-Lemek and Olchoro Oirowua
Wildlife Management Trusts—that derive direct
benefits by levying fees for viewing and bird-
shooting, among other activities. In view of these
benefits, there are two possible outcomes
regarding the direction of livestock development
vis-à-vis wildlife conservation. One may be that
the returns obtained from conservation are
invested in livestock production, thus improving
pastoralism. However, if it turns out that
conservation is more lucrative than livestock
production, this might be a threat to the future of
pastoralism.
Those who support the use of rangelands for
wildlife and livestock, rather than livestock alone
(see, for example, Hopcraft 1988; Pratt and
Gwynne 1977), centre their arguments on the
ecological advantages of wildlife. The advantages
include a more balanced use of vegetation,
leading to more efficient use of available grass,
herbs and trees; less tracking and trampling on
land due to lower water requirements of game;
and the maintenance of species diversity and the
accompanying symbiotic relationships vital to the
maintenance of the land resource itself.
Additionally, cattle, for example, use 50-70 litres
of water per animal daily while game animals use
only a fraction of this amount. Some species
actually require no water at all.
Insecurity: Security in the range areas is the
cornerstone of future development. Livestock
keepers are under constant threat of attacks by
cattle raiders who in many cases also take human
life. Theft occurs among the Maasai themselves
but on a small scale. The neighbouring Kalenjin,
Kisii and Kuria communities undertake major
raids. The raids together with land conflicts have
on many occasions caused widespread tribal wars
(clashes), such as the one that occurred in 1991.
In recent times, raids have assumed a dimension
traditionally not existing; raiding has become
predatory where sophisticated weapons are
employed, causing massive destruction of both
human life and property. Thus, addressing
insecurity becomes critical to ensuring
sustainability of the production system. This rests
with the government as its primary responsibility.
CONCLUSION
The foregoing results and discussions
indicate that to achieve greater individual and
local (rural) development in the Mara region, there
is a need to develop the most important means of
livelihood: livestock production. However, this
should take into consideration conservation
efforts, as this is an important conservation area.
Livestock development should involve
improving livestock production to enable the
Maasai community to use livestock as a source
of survival and wellbeing, together with all the
other activities that make up the livelihood
systems of the Maasai, who operate in an
economy with a strong subsistence component.
In addition to raising livestock production for
the market, livestock development planning
should also ensure corresponding development
measures and policies that would help livestock-
keepers to meet their own objectives—since they
are the ones who make production decisions.
Past records of livestock development suggest
that many policies were made and projects
initiated which were based on false assumptions
173
LAND-USE CHANGE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
about livestock-keepers’ aims and objectives and
about how decisions are made by the production
units: the livestock keeping households. With a
focus on people-oriented development, the
functions of livestock in the local economy can
be examined and something can be learnt from
the systems of livestock production, within the
livestock-wildlife-human interaction, on how to
make optimal use of local renewable resources.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We wish to thank the African Conservation
Centre (ACC) for the logistical and financial
support of this study. However, the Centre does
not necessarily support the views expressed in
this paper, much less bear responsibility for any
errors.
NOTES
1. Pastoralism is a production as well as a socio-cultural
system consisting of an interaction between herders,
animals and a given mode of resource management
(Swift, 1977).
2. Note that off-take rates were calculated by consi-
dering livestock numbers rather than livestock units.
This is a crude way of estimating off-take. Strict
methods of doing this are discussed by Nyariki et al.
(2005, pp.121) and Nyariki (2008).
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... Livestock in general and sheep farming, in particular, are among the main land users. Pastoral production requires very large expanses of land, and efficiency in its management (Herrero et al., 2013;Nyariki et al., 2009;Ogunkoya, 2014). Since livestock producers depend more on land for their farming, it is expected that land has a very positive effect on livestock production. ...
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In South Africa, sheep enterprises play an important role as a source of livelihood for many farmers, especially smallholder farmers. The productivity of sheep farmers in South Africa is very low. The lack of analytical evidence on efficiency levels of smallholder sheep farmers in the different sheep production systems limits policy-making on optimal allocation of resources. In addition, these smallholder farmers are faced with numerous constraints regarding production, which is considered to be one of the many factors impeding their productivity and livelihood. Very little is known empirically about the constraints faced by these farmers and how they can be overcome. This study analysed the factors that influence the productivity of sheep production to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder sheep producers in the N8 development corridor and to identify and rank the constraints faced by smallholder sheep farmers along the N8 development corridor. Data for this study was collected with the use of structured questionnaires. A sample size of 217 smallholder sheep farmers comprising 157 from Thaba Nchu and 60 from Botshabelo was used. The stochastic metafrontier model was used to estimate technical efficiency and technology gaps across the different farms in the study areas. The Kendall’s coefficient of concordance was used to identify and rank the constraints faced by smallholder farmers. The empirical results of the study revealed that farmers in both Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo are technically inefficient. The empirical results show that herd size and feed cost had significant positive effects on sheep output in Thaba Nchu municipal district, indicating that these variables are vital for enhancing sheep production in Thaba Nchu. However, land size and sheep loss were found to have a significant negative effect on sheep output in Thaba Nchu. The negative effect of land size on sheep output was completely unexpected. It is assumed that these farmers have relatively small herds, and increasing land size will only add to the cost of managing the land. On the other hand, land and transport costs had significant positive effects on sheep output Botshabelo, indicating that these inputs are vital to enhancing sheep production in this district municipality. Sheep loss had the expected significant negative effect on sheep production in Botshabelo. In the pooled sample, herd size, feed cost and labour were found to have significant positive effects on sheep production in the study areas. However, land size and sheep loss were found to have a significant negative effect on sheep output in the pooled sample. The gamma value of 0.679 means that about 67.9% of the variation in sheep output in Thaba Nchu is explained by technical inefficiency, while 32.10% of the variation is due to random shocks and statistical noise. For Botshabelo, the gamma value (0.779) was relatively higher than in Thaba Nchu, indicating that the effects of inefficiency on variation of the sheep output is far larger than that of random shocks. The pooled sample had a gamma value of 0.799. This means that 79.9% of the variation in sheep production in the study areas is due to inefficiency and 11.1% is due to random shocks. The variation in sheep production for the study areas is generally due to technical inefficiency on the part of the sheep farmers. The stochastic production frontier analysis showed that the average technical efficiency of Thaba Nchu farmers was 67.3% and 65.7% for farmers in Botshabelo. This result indicates that there is 32.7% potential for Thaba Nchu farmers to expand their production by operating at full technical efficiency level, while the scope for Botshabelo to increase the level of efficiency using available farm resources and technologies is about 34.3%. The variables that influence the technical efficiency level of Thaba Nchu farmers are indigenous sheep breed, education level, veterinary services and market distance. Indigenous sheep and market distance had a significant negative effect on technical efficiency in Botshabelo while farm experience and crossbreeding method had significant positive effects on technical inefficiency. Theft, lack of capital, diseases and parasite were found to be the most severe constraints facing the sheep farmers. The average technical efficiency scores estimated relative to the metafrontier (TEm) for Thaba Nchu was 0.495 while for Botshabelo was 0.442. The results indicate further that a regional production frontier is necessary to advise farmers in each district on ways to improve the productivity and efficiency of sheep production. It can be concluded from the results of the study that farmers in the study area are producing well below the production frontier. This means that farmers have the potential to increase their productivity and efficiency in order to produce at full capacity. The policy recommendation arising from this study is that farmers should be trained on proper farm management techniques and that proper market channels should be developed for farmers to sell their products. Building new fences and improving old ones will help prevent theft and will increase sheep outputs. Key Words: Technical efficiency, determinants of technical inefficiency, South Africa, N8 development corridor, metafrontier, productivity, smallholder sheep production, technology gap ratio, stochastic metafrontier model.
... Archaeological evidence for PN era sites at elevations up to 2800 m raises the question of whether early herders moved their livestock to higher elevations seasonally. Altitudinal mobility between high elevation dry season pastures and drought refuges and lowland wet season pastures have been documented among modern Maasai herders (Homewood and Rodgers, 1991;Lamprey and Waller, 1990;Nyariki et al., 2009), and permanent occupation of open grassy moorlands up to the highest elevations of the Mau Escarpment (~3100 m) only began since forced translocation from the Central Rift floor and Laikipia Plateau by the colonial administration between 1905 and 1912 (Hughes, 2002). Elsewhere in Kenya, agropastoral groups including the Pokot and Sebei herd cattle in elevation zones unsuitable for crops (Porter, 1965;Goldschmidt, 1976). ...
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