The Digital Tools, Geospatial and Farming Systems Consortium (DGFSC), funded by The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL), conducted a review to identify challenges and opportunities for different livestock farming systems in Senegal as a focus country in the region of West Africa.
An exhaustive literature search was conducted and focused on retrieving peer-reviewed journal manuscripts and reports published by government and non-government organizations. Eeswaran Rasu, Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University, explained that this research is relevant since it will help implement potential interventions and improve the livestock systems while enhancing the livelihood of the people living in this region.
According to the research, pastoral, agro-pastoral, and off-land systems are the three major livestock production systems in Senegal, which are unique in terms of agroclimatology and degree of intensification and integration. Meanwhile, Senegal heavily depends on importing livestock products (e.g., beef, milk, and eggs) to meet its national requirement.
According to Eeswaran, the major challenges identified in livestock systems are lack of pasture and quality feed, scarcity of water resources, undeveloped breeding and management of livestock, climate change, poor marketing and trade, and socioeconomic constraints.
Moreover, the DGFSC summarized plausible interventions to improve the productivity of livestock farming systems. In this way, concentrated efforts must be taken to better implement suitable interventions for sustainable livestock sector development in this region. Below are the summary of interventions:
● Monitoring the seasonal availability of pasture composition and quality at a regional level and provide prompt pasture availability information to pastoralists
● Disseminating information about the benefits of dual-purpose crops to enhance agriculture-livestock integration while reducing transhumance and farmer-pastoralist conflicts
● Developing crop varieties with tolerant traits to drought, heat, and salinity stress
● Strengthening weather monitoring and seasonal climate forecasting to predict droughts and floods and establishing early warning systems for farmers to plan cropping system before the onset of rain.
● Enhancing extension services to disseminate climate-smart agriculture and related techniques.
● Improving disease surveillance in pastoral areas and increasing veterinary care facilities in remote villages
● Strengthening local institutions for livestock research, development, and outreach
● Revisiting current livestock policies to better support livestock farming
Eeswaran emphasized that this research will assist in implementing more interventions through modeling approaches. For example, through computer simulation and modeling, we can identify the best practices for integration of crop and livestock systems. This modeling process was identified in the proposed work plan under the DGFSC. Eeswaran hopes that the collected data and summarized information in this review will help in the future steps to develop an integrated model with dual-purpose crops and livestock systems in this region.