Page 52 - University of Pretoria RESEARCH REVIEW 2016
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 HERITAGE and society
There is growing recognition in the development literature that small-scale farming provides pathways out of poverty, towards food
security and sustainable livelihoods.
Professor Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UP, has published The Socioeconomics of Livestock Keeping in two South African Communities (HSRC Press, 2016), co-authored with Safiyya Goga, Furzana Timol and Stanley Molefi. He and his postgraduate students travelled to rural communities to observe and study small-scale farmers and their households, their relationship to livestock, and rural community experiences in the Marble Hall (Limpopo) and Siyabuswa/Rhenosterkop (Mpumalanga) areas.
Professor Reddy writes that entry into the world
of cattle and other domesticated animals was the result of an invitation by scientists at the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) working on vaccines for livestock to combat viral diseases. At the outset, he knew little about vaccine development and animal health, issues far removed from other pressing questions about the material, embodied, socio- behavioural and gendered dimensions of sexualities that usually preoccupy him.
The book, through its focus on livestock practices, presents the human and social dimensions of rural
farming systems and the relationship to household food security, socioeconomic development and improved livestock health in rural farmer households.
The team investigated behaviour patterns, usage, uptake, knowledge and attitudes among farmers in relation to vaccine usage and disease management. Vaccinations as an intervention have yielded the greatest efficacy in preventing, controlling and reducing the incidence of animal diseases worldwide. Healthy animals in relation to healthy communities play a central role in ensuring and enhancing food security. With a multidimensional team involving scientists in microbiology, agricultural economics and social sciences, the study was geared toward providing evidence to promote greater food and economic security in livestock-keeping households, through improved animal health.
Smallholder farmers who are already in precarious socioeconomic circumstances are often worst affected by livestock disease outbreaks. Livestock keeping enables households to avoid stark poverty, as they sell livestock out of necessity rather than
as a purely commercial enterprise. Socio-culturally, keeping livestock, especially cattle, serves as a store of value and savings to be sold in times of need and crisis; described by one participant as a ‘traditional bank’.
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Safiyya Goga

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