Socio-economic transformation among Traditional Cattle Keepers in the Kafue Flood Plain in Namwala District, Zambia
AbstractA study involving ninety eighty traditional cattle keepers was conducted in Namwala's Baambwe and Maala areas with the objective of assessing changes in the value of cattle with respect to shifts in production goals, constraints, coping strategies and the introduction of markets, and government interventions in the promotion of the livestock sector. The hypotheses were that different categories of cattle keepers within rural agro-pastoral communities are likely to respond differently to opportunities and constraints from cattle markets and that successful cattle keepers are likely to expand their production opportunities by ploughing capital obtained from proceeds of cattle sales while less successful ones withhold animals from the market unless there is an urgent need in order to realise a longer goal of stock accumulation. The results showed that financial security was ranked the first by 35.7 percent of the sample as the most important primary objective for keeping cattle. This is due to the changing economic environment resulting in an increase in the demand of money in the rural economy with available markets. In addition, following the establishment of commercial cattle buyers, the socio-economic situation among the traditional cattle keepers have changed from mere accumulation of cattle for prestige and social standing in society to entering into the market economy. Increased cattle marketing has encouraged transformation in production goals for keeping cattle to acquiring universally accepted and prestigious items such as solar panels, television sets, vehicles, dip tanks, houses, fencing, retail shops etc. However, livestock production remains below its potential due to the effect of recurrent cattle diseases and climatic variability in which government and other stakeholders have come on board to help sustain livestock production. It was concluded from the study that cattle keepers are rational economic actors whose production goals and strategies are determined not only by cultural and ideological considerations but by constraints and opportunities imposed by the wider social, political and economic environment. The transformation has occurred, particularly among successful cattle keepers, accumulating both money and assets. They have responded positively to the introduced cattle markets by selling the surplus of their herds.