Narrowing the socio-economic gender gap through empowerment of women in micro livestock farming: Opportunities and challenges
Keywords:Opportunities, Challenges, Women, Micro livestock
Micro livestock appears to be the most sustainable means of producing high quality animal protein for the expanding populations of the lesser developing countries. Diversification in animal agriculture through inclusion of non-conventional livestock such as micro livestock species (goat, sheep, poultry, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigeon, ducks, snails, grasscutter etc) provide options that would guarantee fully participation of women in livestock production to alleviate rural households protein shortage or deficiencies. The micro livestock are likely to become increasingly important source of animal protein as a result of rapid increase in human population and in the light of dwindling land sizes and natural resources in general. This is on the backdrop that micro livestock have diverse economic and social functions in rural communities, and different types of micro livestock have been associated with women due to their significant potential for alleviating malnutrition and food insecurity. Therefore, supporting micro livestock should be considered as a means to empower women in rural development which has the capacity to improve household nutrition and food security. This discussion looks at the opportunities of empowering women through micro livestock as a mean of alleviating poverty and solving the food insecurity challenges in rural communities. The challenges which women might face in engaging in micro livestock are also highlighted. The basis of micro livestock farming may be taken from the perspective of animal products supply being outpaced with the increased human population in Africa. In this case, alternative sources of animal protein such as micro livestock need to be promoted, and if not, livestock products will be beyond the reach of the majority of the ordinary persons. The space for classic livestock rearing have decreased, and this scenario will suit the keeping of smaller animals which are prolific and easy to manage. This warrant serious consideration of micro livestock farming as one of the major component of the livestock production systems where women can be empowered in rural areas. Micro livestock farming has greater opportunities in improving livelihoods among the rural poor households, provided that productivity is enhanced and appropriate input and services can be availed. Gender sensitive programs that promote micro livestock farming contribution to optimization of animal product supply and enhance food security on sustainable basis are recommended. In most cases livestock professionals such as veterinarians and animal scientists often do not have the necessary familiarity and competence with gender analysis and participatory skills to implement a gender balanced assessment or response in livestock production issues.
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