When the smallholder dairy farmer looks at a cow, he sees more than just a simple economic asset whose value is reckoned in terms of the milk it produces.
What he sees is an asset endowed with an assortment of attributes ranging from the production of milk, manure to fertilize crops, insurance against unforeseen contingencies and a form of capital asset to finance occasional expenditure.
These non-market functions are crucial in economies where the financial markets may not be operating effectively or where deprivation prohibits ready access to the more formal markets. This is the value of the dairy cow that is greatly respected in farming communities.
One economic analyst recently said that the capture of these non-market values of cattle was crucial to the survival and competitiveness of smallholder cattle production systems.
“They play a significant role in meeting household needs, especially for resource poor farmers and women. Policy formulation must, therefore, take full account of this feature if appropriate interventions are to be developed,” he said.
Read more … (The Herald, Zimbabwe)