Climate change adaptation in vulnerable crop and livestock production systems in Mgeta, Tanzania
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAfrican Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development 2016, 16(2):10853-10865 10.18697/ajfand.74.15605
Increased occurrence of drought and dry spells during the growing season have resulted in increased interest in protection of tropical water catchment areas. In Mgeta, a water catchment area in the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania, water used for vegetable and fruit production is provided through canals from the Uluguru South Forest Reserve. The clearing of forest land for cultivation in the steep slopes in the area is causing severe land degradation, which is threatening the water catchment area, livelihoods, and food security of the local communities, as well as the major population centers in the lowlands. In this paper, the economic performance of a traditional cropping-livestock system with East African (EA)-goats and pigs and extensive vegetable production is compared with a more sustainable and environmentally friendly crop-dairy goat production system. A linear programming (LP) crop-livestock model, maximizing farm income considering the environmental constraints in the area was applied for studying the economic performance of dairy goats in the production system. The model was worked out for the rainy and dry seasons and the analysis was conducted for a basic scenario representing the current situation, based on the variability in the 30 years period from 1982-2012, and in a scenario of both lower crop yields and increased crop variability due to climate change. Data obtained from a sample of 60 farmers that were interviewed using a questionnaire was used to develop and parameterize the model. The study found that in the steep slopes of the area, a crop-dairy goat system with extensive use of grass and multipurpose trees (MPTs) would do better than the traditional vegetable gardening with the EA goat production system. The crop-dairy goat system was superior both in the basic and in a climate change scenario since the yield variation of the grass and MPTs system was less affected compared to vegetable crops due to more tree cover and the use of perennial grasses. However, the goat milk production in the area was constrained by inadequate feeding and lack of an appropriate breeding program. Hence, farmers should enhance goat milk production by supplementing with more concentrate feed and by implementing goat-breeding principles. Moreover, policy measures to promote such a development are briefly discussed.