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In South-Kivu province, cattle farming is an integral component of farmers’ livelihoods and one of the few income-generating opportunities for smallholders. However, very few studies have been conducted to characterize smallholders’ cattle production systems. This study documents cattle production systems to better understand their current situation, constraints they face and opportunities they offer. For that purpose, an investigation was conducted based on a structured survey questionnaire and participatory interviews with 863 farmers in South-Kivu province. Collected data were analysed using factorial analysis of mixed data and clustering techniques. The results revealed three types of smallholder cattle farms differing mainly in their herds’ sizes and landholding. The first category is the most common and includes farmers raising small herds (6.3 ± 6.7 cattle) of local breeds in herding system (in this work, “herding system” refers to a rearing system for which the farmer drives and stays with his animals on pastures and fallow land during the day) and grazing fodder in community pastures, fallow lands and roadside grasses, while land constitutes a scarce resource. In the second category, some farmers have small tracts of land (< 5 ha) and others have large tracts (> 5 ha), but all have medium-size herds (45.1 ± 19.4 cattle) made up of local breeds, which they rear in herding system. They also exploit community pastures, fallow land and roadside fodder for animal feeding. The third and last category includes farmers with large cattle herds (78.1 ± 28.1 cattle) of local, crossbred and exotic breeds raised free range in the fenced paddocks on vast areas of land (> 5 ha) found in high-altitude regions. However, while being different according to the above-considered characteristics, the three categories of cattle farming remain extensive pastoral farms dominated by male farmers. Agriculture and/or animal husbandry are their main source of income while their livestock are also composed of goats and poultry, beside cattle. Still, the three farming groups require more inputs and improvement strategies for increased productivity in the challenging environment characterized by low land accessibility and high demand for milk and meat. Fodder cultivation and crop-livestock integration through agro-ecological systems as well as access to credit and extension services are the proposed strategies for the improvement of this economic sector.
Mugumaarhahama, Y., Ayagirwe, R. B. B., Mutwedu, V. B., Cirezi, N. C., Wasso, D. S., Azine, P. C., & Karume, K. (2021). Characterization of smallholder cattle production systems in South-Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Pastoralism, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13570-020-00187-w