Time to make livestock keeping a blessing and not a curse
EDITORIAL – Last week, the Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries Onyoti Adigo Nykwic called on local cattle keepers across the country to change from their traditional ways of keeping animals.
Onyoti advised the cattle keepers to sell out their local breeds and buy hybrid cows that produce quality meat and milk.
He argued that this would in turn minimize the persistent conflicts between them and the farming communities, especially in Central and Eastern Equatoria States.
Several times farming communities mainly from Central and Eastern Equatoria States have complained about their crops being destroyed by cattle that normally come to graze in the area.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report, South Sudan’s livestock population is estimated at 12 million cattle, 20 million sheep, and 25 million goats. That makes the country a world leader in terms of animal wealth per capita.
South Sudan is where cattle outnumber the population of human beings. But the irony is that while the livestock population is estimated to have an asset value of $2.2billion, unfortunately, it has not been a resource that benefits the people because they are not reared for economic benefits or to alleviate food insecurity; they are reared for prestige.
Most of these cattle keepers rarely slaughter one of their cows for meat but they often import cattle mainly from neighboring Uganda’s districts of Soroti and Lira.
The cattle keepers need to be supported and equipped with the knowledge of modern livestock keeping such as the paddock system.
This is because the cattle in the country are not being managed sustainably, and are causing insecurity and environmental degradation, particularly in the areas of the farming communities.
They are more of a curse than a blessing to the keepers and the country at large. It is time to focus on quality instead of quantity because if they do not add value to the economy of the country, or improve the livelihoods of the owners; then they become the sources of destruction in the communities and the country at large.
The primitive ideology of keeping many cattle so that one is respected in their communities on the basis of having the largest number of livestock should be abolished.
Today, many cattle keepers even those in the Middle East are focusing on high-quality meat and milk but not how many herds of cattle one possesses.
Apart from meat and milk, there are various by-products that come from all types of cattle. Tallo is of such by-products which are highly profitable. It is fat from cattle, and it is used in wax paper, crayons, margarines, paints, rubber, lubricants, candles, soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams, and other cosmetics.
Gelatin is another. It is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of cattle in water. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics. It is also used in foods as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (like Jell-O), candies, and marshmallows.
Thirdly, leather comes from the hides of animals. It is used to make wallets, purses, furniture, shoes, and car upholstery. Leather can be made from the skin of pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, and exotic species such as alligators.
Hence, with the huge number of cattle, we have in the country children in South Sudanese would not be suffering from malnutrition if this livestock is sustainably managed.