Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Where does all that feed come from?

The environmental trade-off model, i am working with lately, is based on the idea that feed can move within the whole study area! A strong assumption?So in the last field trip to Burkina Faso, we investigated the matter.

In fattening and dairy systems in peri-urban Burkina Faso, feed is mostly brought to the animals. Most of the feed is crop-residue, from maize, sesame, sorghum and other local crop. Most of the farmers have their own, but also buy the crop residue from their neighbor, or the buy the right to graze on the field with residue.

maize residues prepared for sale to the neighbor
There is also some natural grasses that can be found on common land, but some farmers also get grass from privately owned land for which they got the usage right. Most farmers pay for these right, but we met one who got grass for free.
Natural grass dried and stored for the dry season
Next to grass and crop residue, farmers feed other local feed, from local tress but also a whole bunch of concentrates. Firstly, around Bobo-Dialassou is providing a full concentrate produced in Cote d'Ivoire at subsidized price.
The concentrate from Cote d'Ivoire

Secondly, because of the area produces cotton, the cotton seed are transformed to oil. The residue of that oil production is called cotton seed cake. Though it is produced locally, the high fat content makes cotton seed cake a high value feed with a regional market. The cotton seed cake from Bobo can be found up to Mali, where the price are better.
Sesame ready for seed extraction, afterwards the residue is fed to animals

The state company that produces oil and cotton seed cake at high quality has specific rules about cotton seed cake. Their oil is more expensive than the one of the competition. So the oil is always sold with the cotton seed cake, which can fetch a higher price. So only the one who buys the oil can get the cotton seed cake (that is of better quality than the one of the competition). So the big oil buyer will also develop a market for the cotton seed cake. Because prices are so much better in Mali, the oil buyers usually sell the cotton seed cake abroad.

Cotton seed cake from the state company (left)
Cotton seed cake from the local companies

In conclusion, feed moves around quite a bit within the study area but also move out of the study area for animals in drier locations such as Mali.

Moving feed out of the study area

Saturday, December 17, 2016

urban livestock fattening : an adaptation strategy?

During my last field trip in Burkina Faso, we stopped in Bobo-Dialassou, the second biggest city in the country to talk to a livestock keepers association for fattening.
meeting the livestock keeper association
They are 70 male members who specialize into livestock fattening. After longer discussion we also discovered that some of them are also dairy farmers and other still have big herds out of town. Yet, our discussion focused mainly on the objective of the farmers' association, namely fattening that takes place in town.
urban livestock keeping in Bobo-Dialassou
Livestock is kept in one location and all the feed and fodder is purchased. It is a completely land less activity, that for some is a risk management strategy (for those who have still herds far away) and a fully sedentary activity for other (how gave up traditional livestock keeping and focusing on activities in town).

Feed for sale
The association main role was information sharing, they have to head of information who get airtime from the association and have responsibilities to call for meetings. During meetings the all new information about markets, be it for input or for sale of animal is exchanged. Presence at these meeting is obligatory, but one can get excused for a very important matter.

Also the association buys feed in bulk for its member to reduce cost. The major objective of the association is to expand into the periphery where fattening also happens.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Follow the cotton!

I was quite exited on my last field trip to Burkina Faso to see for the first time in my life cotton growing in the field. We were visiting during the harvesting season, so suddenly one sees white mountains of cotton appear in the landscape.

the mountains of cotton
I was pretty astonished to learn that it was all rainfed, that it is an integral part of crop rotation in the area. Whereas farmers in the West of Bobo-Dialassou are well organized and have an organized supply chain to the cotton companies, around Bama this is not the case. This means that only farmers that are big enough to attract a cotton company to come and pick will produce cotton.

A cotton flower before harvest

Cotton is grown for its white fiber that we use to produce cloth. Yet, the flower also has seed that can be used to produce oil. When the oil is refined it is good for human consumption. The cotton seed cake is the waste resulting from oil production. It has high fat and is therefore a very good feed for livestock.
An open cotton flower with the seed in the middle
We visited Madame Kagone, the wife of a doctor who produced oil is an artisanal way her whole life. But when we met her, we discovered that she was building a quite big cotton seed oil production plant. We never discovered how it was really funded, but we were told that the goverment was becoming very restrictive and would check that the oil production for human consumption comply all the refining steps that makes oil edible for humans. So there was a clear move from artisanal production towards middle sized plant.
the refinery part of the oil production plant
So we visited such a plant, which still was under construction. We discovered that the cotton seed were bough from the state company that processes the cotton fiber. Oil and cotton seed cake are two separate products and is sold to re-sellers, and so we lost the trace on whether the cotton seed cake remained local or not.

Madame Kagone on the right with her friend who is also building an oil processing plant
We left, impressed that these type of businesses are run by women...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Exploring Bama : when urban demand offers new opportunities

I am just back from a field trip in Burkina Faso, where we went to explore the context in one of our sites for the CLEANED project funded by the DFID SAIRLA program. This project aims at identifying trade-offs and synergies in intensifying livestock value chains.

We went to Bama, in the periphery of the second biggest city of Burkina Faso, Bobo-Dialassou.

Bama's landscape is mostly shaped by four land uses, irrigated rice production, rain-fed crop production (mainly maize, sorghum, sesame and cotton) with trees (mango, papaya, cashew nuts) and natural savanna and forest, as shown in the land cover map below.

 We discovered that decision makers differentiate among three livestock keeping systems :
  1. fattening system 
  2. dairy system
  3. traditional system
the rice paddies in Bama
In the fattening system, cows are kept for producing milk at the homestead and fed in a cut and carry system. In the dairy system, cows are mainly at the homestead for milking and feeding. However these cow also go grazing in the nearby fields and grazing area. Finally, in the traditional system, cattle is not kept for a particular purpose (meat or milk) and goes on transhumance for part of year, i.e. goes beyond a 100 km away from their homestead.

All farmers also have sheep, that might join the transhumance or not. Also pigs are becoming more and more important.
Bama, due to its proximity to the big city has the opportunity to supply the growing demand for milk and meat. Many people choose to produce to fulfill this demand and the amount of animal that remain the whole year long is increasing, increasing the challenge for feed in the dry season and is changing the landscape.

Wondering what is driving these changes? how people see their future in the area? of simply want to discover a new place? Then follow the SAIRLA and Burkina Faso tag in the up-coming weeks to discover what we have learned in Bama!