Pastoral farming is defined as the system of farming in which livestock animals like cattle, sheep and goats are reared either for food or for sale.
TYPES OF PASTORAL FARMING
There are two types of pastoral farming. These are:
- Pastoral nomadism: In this type, the cattle with their owners move from place to place in search of pasture (grasses) and water e.g. movement of cattle north or south during certain seasons in Nigeria.
- Transhumance: This is the movement of cattle with their owners from lowlands or valley during the rainy season to the highlands and vice versa during the dry season in search of pasture and water.
FACTORS FAVOURABLE TO PASTORAL FARMING
- Favourable climate, especially the presence of tropical continental (sudan) climate favours the rearing of animals.
- Presence of abundance grasses for the animals.
- Presence of large expanse or area of land for grazing by animals.
- Absence of some dangerous insects like tsetse flies which cause sleeping sickness i.e. trypanosomiasis.
- Availability of large markets to consume the meat, milk, hide and skin of the animals.
- Low rainfall which favours the growth of grasses.
- The culture of the tribes involved in pastoral farming who take cattle as a source of wealth.
AREAS OF PASTORAL FARMING
- In West Africa: Pastoral farming is practiced in the Sudan and Sahel savanna regions of Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
- In East Africa: Pastoral farming is practiced in the Massai reserve grassland in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia and in the wetter and tsetse fly free areas of the highlands.
METHODS OF PASTORAL FARMING
- In West Africa and East Africa, nomadic herding which is the movement of pastoral nomads with their cattle from place to place in search of pasture and water is practiced.
- Unlike in West Africa, many European settlers are involved in livestock farming in East Africa.
- Unlike in West Africa, transhumance is also practiced in East Africa.
ANIMALS INVOLVED IN PASTORAL FARMING
Animals involved in pastoral farming are mainly ruminant or polygastric animals like cattle, sheep and goat.
IMPORTANCE OF PASTORAL FARMING
- Cattle, sheep and goat are sources of proteinous food like meat and milk.
- Some animals like cattle are used to pull farm implements during land preparation.
- Farmers get money by selling their animals.
- Pastoral farming provides jobs for many people e.g. cattle rearers and butchers.
- Export of cattle, hides and skin provides foreign exchange for the country.
- It provides raw materials like hide and skin for tannery industries for leather, bags and shoe making.
PROBLEMS OF PASTORAL FARMING
- Unreliable and scanty rainfall leads to shortage of water and grasses for the animals.
- The breeds of cattle are poor or low with slow growth rate and late maturity.
- Presence of tsetse flies which cause sleeping sickness of the animals.
- Lack of drugs and vaccines to treat sick animals.
- Inadequate veterinary officers to perform the treatment.
- Overgrazing of pasture leads to soil erosion.
- Poor transport system as cattle easily die during their long movement from place to place.
- Negative attitude of the Fulanis and the Massai who regard cattle rearing as a way of life and the standard of measuring wealth rather than for economic reasons.
- Presence of poor quality pastures (grasses and legumes).
SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS
- Ranching which is the artificial growth of pasture to restrict movement, should be encouraged.
- All shades or trees within grazing areas which are the habitat of tsetse flies should be cut-off.
- Better breeds of cattle should be adopted.
- Transport network should be developed.
- Sufficient or adequate drugs and vaccines should be provided at reduced prices.
- Adequate veterinary officials should be provided.
- Special grazing reserves which contain high quality grasses and water should be developed.
- Nomadic education should be encouraged for the Fulanis and Massai.