Attempts to increase food productivity, make the agricultural sector more cost efficient, improve diets of lower income people, and increase net incomes of farmers and livestock owners are receiving considerable interest on a worldwide basis. In many areas, however, these goals are not being met. In particular, livestock development programs in arid and semi-arid pastoral and sedentary regions in Africa have been especially discouraging. The general problem confronted in this article is to determine why the livestock industry is not developing, and to analyze alternatives related to one major source of concern: communally grazed areas.
Africa warrants a special place in development planning due to a multitude of non-economic factors. Political instability, language differences, and tribal and racial tensions have often tended to overshadow economic considerations (Bates, 1981). Perhaps most striking has been the heavy emphasis on equity considerations, possibly because many nations have recently emerged from colonial rule. The relatively short post emergence period (two to three decades in most cases) combined with the continent's economic and natural resource diversity, and a host of other factors such as trade policies, make analysis of economic development potential very difficult (World Bank, 1981).
It is evident that there is no one problem and no unique solution in denning policies related to Sub-Saharan Africa's livestock sector. Perhaps most important is to recognize that the various kinds of livestock systems themselves, as well as associated social institutions, are dynamic forces.