Livestock keepers’ rights is a concept developed by civil society during the “Interlaken process” and is advocated for by a group of non-government organizations, livestock keepers, pastoralist associations and scientists who support community-based conservation of local breeds. This study provides an overview of the rationale, history and content of livestock keepers’ rights and suggests that biocultural or community protocols are a means of invoking the principles of livestock keepers’ rights even in the absence of their legal enshrinement. It is concluded that besides striving for legal codification of livestock keepers’ rights its principles should form the basis of pro-poor and ecological livestock development in general.
Description of how the Raika of Rajasthan created a biocultural protocol
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.