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Tropentag, September 20 - 22, 2017 in Bonn

"Future Agriculture: Social-ecological transitions and bio-cultural shifts"

Sustainable Intensification Pathways for Dairy Farming in Kenya

Jan van der Lee1, Bockline Bebe2, Simon Oosting1

1Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen Livestock Research, The Netherlands
2Egerton University, Dept. of Animal Science, Kenya


This case study on dairy farming in Kenya illustrates how intensification takes shape within a given context – a context with various opportunities and constraints within which farmers have to make strategic management decisions on the future of their farms – and assess sustainability of this intensification. The study follows a bottom-up identification of sustainability indicators and sustainable intensification pathways. These are generated from interviews, augmented from literature, and structured in the MESMIS framework.
Land appears to be the most limiting production factor in the Kenyan highlands, while climate effects on production are most limiting in the coastal lowlands. Large differences in intensification are visible, with a variety of farming systems as a result. We show how farmers at different intensification levels in four selected case study areas can - or should – have different strategies for sustainable intensification, depending on their current land use intensity, access to external inputs and services, and the markets they trade in. The outcomes of a SWOT analysis inform coping strategy options for dealing with the major stresses and shocks affecting dairy farming. Strategies for sustainable intensification (SI) are then explored, identifying key SI challenges, SI choices and coping strategies for farmers.
Currently farmers choose between three intensification pathways: Connecting to the processed dairy supply chain, to niche chains for quality products, or to the local raw milk chain. The choice for particular (alternative) pathways depends on stakeholder goals, and on how one deals with the trade-offs between alternative pathways and coping strategies.
In strategy selection, trade-offs between economic, social and environmental sustainability parameters can make for big differences, where choices include ‘reducing cost of production' vs. ‘retaining the smallholder mode of production'; ”development for all smallholder members of dairy cooperative societies” vs. ‘focus on entrepreneurial dairy smallholders'; ‘participating in the bulk processed milk sector' vs. ‘developing ways to market milk locally'; ‘local nutrient-balanced systems' vs. ‘traded feed and fodder with accumulation of manure'.
This case study informs research needs for sustainable intensification of dairy farming in Africa, split out by farming system-, value chain-, and sustainability issues.

Keywords: Dairy, farming systems, Kenya, sustainable intensification

Contact Address: Jan van der Lee, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen Livestock Research, Postbus 338, 6700AH Wageningen, The Netherlands, e-mail: jan.vanderlee@wur.nl

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