Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Whose grazing land? the seasonal rights on communal land

Atsbi, the study area in Ethiopia for my current project, has made a bold move from free grazing to zero grazing.

Free grazing means that animals can just freely move around the landscape and eat crop residues from fields and natural grazes where ever they find them. This leads to the classical tragedy of the commons, no one has incentives to keep the right number of livestock as feed is free. Therefore the landscape gets over-exploited.

The move to zero-grazing means that farmer keep their livestock at home and feed them from their own land. Livestock that does not move also consumes less, there is therefore an additional benefit.

But what is happening with the grazing land that previously was freely use? how gets access to that grass?
the grazing land that was still in private ownership

Grazing land is often considered as community land and therefore managed by the community. We have visited two of them and talked to people around to understand the management.

We discovered that access was seasonally regulated. During the rainy season access was restricted to all. After the rainy season, farmers with certified land would share the grazing land according to oxen ownership. Who has 1 oxen gets one share, who has 2 gets two share. Note that who is landless (who does not have certified farming land), does not get access, because they do not need oxen, though they might actually own a dairy cow. There are paid guards who make sure that no free grazing takes place.

This grazing land was open for free grazing

After a certain amount of time, the grazing land is becoming common grazing land again. Who has not made hay or collected his share of grass by that date, will just loose it, as others can come with their animals to graze it.

In conclusion, there are seasonal property rights on grazing land! There is only one exception : the church cow can graze anywhere any time, it benefits to all, so one one will chase it away :-) .

No comments:

Post a Comment