Africa is rich in both natural and human resources, yet nearly 200 million of its people are undernourished because of inadequate food supplies. Comprehensive strategies are needed across the continent to harness the power of science and technology (S&T) in ways that boost agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability -- ultimately ensuring that all Africans have access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. This report addresses the question of how science and technology can be mobilized to make that promise a reality.
Pastoral systems, mainly involving sheep and goats, are found across large areas of the arid and semi-arid zones of Africa. (Temperate area pastoralists such as the Masai are included in the highland temperate systems.) Such systems have strong linkages to farming systems in more humid areas and to large feedlots located in urban areas. The animals undertake seasonal migration, which relies on the availability of grass, water and crop residues. For example, during the driest period of the year, Sahelian pastoralists move south to the cereal/root crop mixed system areas and they return north during the rainy season. These systems are often partially controlled and financed by urban capital.
The vulnerabilities of pastoral systems include the great climatic variability and consequently high incidence of drought and desertification, leading to loss of biodiversity; loss livestock due to droughts or stock theft; and heavy grazing of the rangelands by livestock, believed to be the main cause of degradation to vegetation and land throughout the pastoral regions.