Local breeds and minor species are hardy and able to thrive in harsh conditions. Their adaptive traits and unique characteristics (coloured wool or hides, extra-fine fibre, meat or milk with special tastes) offer opportunities for the marketing of speciality products and sustainable food production in marginal areas.
This study discusses eight initiatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America that help communities to produce and market various products for niche markets: milk and dairy products from dromedaries; cashmere, wool and handicrafts from goats, sheep and Bactrian camels; and meat, meat products and handicrafts from goats and sheep.
The main strategies were to seek new markets for existing or entirely new products (rather than trying to exploit existing markets). Most initiatives had some form of branding or labelling, and two had protected their products with geographical indications.
Such marketing initiatives can be started with limited capital inputs but are skill and knowledge intensive. They require strong commitment to overcome seasonal fluctuations in production, the lack of infrastructure and services, and difficulties in institution building. But when well planned and carefully managed, they can help conserve breeds as well as provide a livelihood for people involved in the value chain, allowing actors earlier in the value chain – livestock keepers and small-scale processors – to capture a greater share of the value of the end product than they would by trying to serve a mass market.