CHAKRAPONG CHAIKONG1, JAN MAXA1, EVA SCHLECHT2, MATTHIAS GAULY1
1Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Department of Animal Science, Germany
2University of Kassel / University of Göttingen, Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany
Under shifting conditions towards high valued products and non-traditional crops and animals, the roles and practices of buffalo and cattle farming in northeastern Thailand have changed over the last decades. The aim of this study therefore was to characterise present"=day beef buffalo and beef cattle production and their contribution to households' livelihoods. To this end, a semi"=structured questionnaire was used to interview 121 farmers in 12 selected districts of the Nakhon Ratchasima province through a single"=visit, multiple"=subject survey during October 2007 and May 2008. Beef buffalo and beef cattle production are traditional agricultural production systems in northeastern Thailand. The small livestock farms are mainly integrated with mixed cropping systems to cover farm household needs. The most important roles of beef buffalo and beef cattle were income earnings including a savings role (21.5% of responses), covering of anticipated (19.4% of responses) as well as unexpected expenses (18.8% of responses), main cash income earning (11% of responses) and additional cash income earning (9.3% of responses). Social aspects (18.3% of responses) also played an important role. Only few farmers (1.7% of responses) were using animals for draft power, as an inherited asset and for traditional activities. With an increasing number of animals per farm, the socioeconomic status including dwelling construction, the number of household assets and holding a commercial health insurance was better than on small"=scale farms. This indicates that beef buffalo and beef cattle farming still plays an important role in improving rural households' wealth and livelihood.
Keywords: Beef farming, livelihoods, livestock roles, socio-economics