The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2024 the International Year of Camelids, making the point that camelids are the main means of subsistence for millions of families who live in the most hostile ecosystems on the planet in over 90 countries, and emphasizing that these animals are essential for food security and nutrition as they are the main source of meat protein and milk for smallholder farmers and indigenous communities in different regions throughout the world. They also provide fibres, organic fertilizer and transport and are indispensable for nomadic livelihoods.
This is certainly an appropriate justification, but as of now, there does not seem to be much of a coordinated effort to make the most of the opportunity presented by the IYC. Some background information and thoughts from our perspective can be found in this presentation. We at LPP are all set to highlight the traditional knowledge (TK) of camel pastoralists and its role in maintaining camel biodiversity, as well as develop the concept of ‘cruelty-free’ camel milk and ‘planetary’ rather than ‘plant-based’ diets, together with our partners and social enterprises. Do get in touch if you would like to join this initiative!
Evelyn Mathias, Günther Czerkus and Andreas Schenk.
League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development, 2022.
This detailed study of the role of pastoralism in Germany argues that a small number of mobile pastoralists make an outsized contribution to the landscape and environmental conservation in Germany. Around 1,000 full-time shepherds manage some 70% of the national flock, they include transhumant (mobile) shepherds who move long distances between winter and summer pastures, and location-bound herders, who graze their sheep and goats in a more or less wide radius around the homestead. In addition, mountain farming in the Alps involves cattle, plus some sheep, goats and horses moving between summer mountain pastures and winter quarters in the valleys. These herders provide various environmental services, including maintaining landscapes, protecting land from flooding, erosion and fire, and maintaining grassland that preserves the quality of groundwater. Official statistics do not include pastoralism as a management system, so its value and its contribution is largely unrecognized.
Pastoralism is important for livestock production, the economy and society in all three countries. It is a vital part of environmental management and culture. Yet finding reliable information on pastoralism is very difficult. Official statistics do not recognize it as a category, leaving policymakers and civil society in the dark. If pastoralists are not recognized, their contributions to the environment, economy and society will also be ignored.
The Accounting for Pastoralists series brings together information about pastoralism in each country – a first step in increasing the visibility and recognition of these groups.
Previous briefs cover Argentina, Germany, India, Kenya and Uganda. A summary brief analyses the results of these studies and recommends that FAO take the lead in initiating data collection on pastoralism and livestock production systems in each country.