Urban Agriculture Notes

City Farmer: Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

(with special reference to Africa)


4.7 The Booming Business of Urban Animal Husbandry

by Luc J.A. Mougeot
© Copyright 1994
International Development Research Centre

Tanzania's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development keeps statistics on UA. Annual reports of the Livestock Office of Dar es Salaam's City Council show that livestock numbers grew steadily between 1985 and 1989; chickens from 510,789 to 793,441, pigs from 8,601 to 15,658, goats from 2,617 to 6,218, and dairy cattle from 4,200 to 8,517 (Mosha 1991: 84). According to local observers, official data give a conservative picture of reality. Similarly, while it was initially reported that there is little livestock rearing in Harare (Mbiba, 1994: 191) the ENDA ground survey (1994: 15, 17, 22), which targetted major medium- and low-density sectors under off-plot cultivation, revealed that 1,059 of 2,700 (39%) interviewees in those areas (66.7% and 76.6% of whom practised on and off-plot cultivation, respectively) raised 27,776 heads of livestock, largely chickens (57% of growers and 84% of all animals). They also kept rabbits, pigeons, ducks, turkeys and peacocks. Nearly 90% of livestock producers live in high-density districts (most dairy husbandry is carried out on large residential plots excluded from the survey).

Ownership of urban cattle is mostly afforded by upper-income UA practitioners. Individuals are known to raise dairy cattle on their urban residential compounds in Addis Ababa, Harare and Dar es Salaam, in addition to other livestock (Egziabher, 1994: 87; ENDA-ZB, 1994; Sawio, 1993). In Addis Ababa, the Livestock and Fishery Corporation in the Ministry of State Farms runs dairy, sheep, and poultry farms in the city (Egziabher, 1994: 87). On Harare's outskirts, the City Council irrigates pastures with treated waste-waters for grazing cattle which are then slaughtered and sold in urban outlets. Milk vending can be a lucrative undertaking for urban dairy producers. In Dar es Salaam in August 1993, one cow, yielding an average of10 litres of milk daily, if this were all sold at 200 TZS/litres, would generate a gross income of 2,000 TZS (575 Tanzanian shillings (TZS) = 1 United States dollar (USD)). This, minus an average maintenance cost of 500 TZS daily, would leave a net income of 1 500 TZS daily or 10,500 TZS weekly, compared to the minimum monthly salary which was set at 7,000 TZS. Anyone wishing to cash-purchase a cow has to disburse an average of 150,000 TZS (Camillus Sawio, personal communication, August 1993): cows can be acquired through various means other than cash purchase. In 1988/89, there were 8,517 dairy cows in the Dar es Salaam City region. If, in August 1993, there were at least as many dairy cows producing an average 10 litres/day in Dar es Salaam, these were worth the equivalent of 2.2 million USD. They generated a net overall annual income equivalent to 6.75 million USD (during the 10-month lactation period). Assuming that only half of the milk was sold, the equivalent to 3.38 million USD per year would go into the pockets of urban cow owners.

Furthermore, assuming that 75% of the estimated 23,000 heads of cattle in Nairobi in 1985 were dairy cows, the annual retail value of milk produced in the city of Nairobi was at least 13 million USD (based on the above figures for Tanzania); this was probably only part of the local milk-market picture as, according to Lee-Smith and Lamba (1991:38), in 1985, the city of Nairobi was home to an estimated 26,000 goats. Some of these goats may produce milk which is used for household consumption. It should be noted that the cost of living in Nairobi was probably higher than in Dar es Salaam. Because urban dairy production is lucrative, it attracts reinvestments which make it competitive within cities. In 1993, the District Veterinary Office of Kampala counted 1,751 heads of cattle in the city ; while the numbers of indigenous breeds have declined in recent years, the zero-grazing of exotic and cross-bred dairy cattle has been rising and is actively promoted by NGOs (NEIC, 1994 draft).

The smaller the animal, the more affordable it is to a wide range of people and the more easily it can make use of limited spaces in the urban fabric. In Kampala, at least 105 private homes and three institutions were raising over 1,100 pigs altogether (87 and 13% of the total number of pigs respectively). The central-city division boasted the second largest concentration (30%) of all animals reported, largely piglets sold for sale and slaughter. As in Dar es Salaam, poultry is thriving, having grown by 60% up between 1991 and mid-1993, when it totalled 156,000 animals (NEIC, 1994 draft: 79-81)

As with food crops, urban livestock can sustain sizeable markets for inputs and outputs, from feedstocks to slaughterhouses. In Kampala, the growth of poultry is in turn boosting the sales of hatcheries and chicken feed outlets (NEIC, 1994 draft: 81). In the mid-1980s, within the city limits of Maseru, Lesotho, seven egg producers owned 75 000 birds; a marketing agency supplied the city with 90,000 dozens of eggs per month. An expanding poultry industry had over thirty large-scale poultry producers, a broiler unit and a slaughter unit with a capacity of 2,500 birds/day; the national pig-breeding herd was found within the town, with a capacity to produce 2,500 weaners per year (Greenhow, 1994: 3). Maseru's dairy plant in the mid-1980s processed 3,000 litres of milk a day from 94 urban producers, contributing to about 40% of the town's overall milk production (Greenhow, 1994: 3).

Small-scale urban farming's annual production in crops and livestock may be worth tens of millions of dollars (US). In metropolitan Rio de Janeiro, 172 ha are cultivated on lease in 1983, under electrical transmission lines, resulting in the addition of garden produce worth 10 million USD to the local market (La Rovere 1986, p. 32). In Kenya, the Mazingira Institute's six-town survey gave the following estimates for urban Kenya in 1985: 25.2 million kg of crops worth 4 million USD and 1.4 million livestock worth 17 million USD. In Nairobi, upper- income farmers keep heads of cattle while lower-income practitioners raise chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats. The value of animals eaten by producing households in urban Kenya was estimated at 1.5 million USD annually in 1985, with another 2.4 million USD worth lost in livestock deaths (Lee-Smith and Memon, 1994: 78). In Maseru, the annual value of UA was estimated at 6.7 million maloti or South African rands (Physical Planning Division and Institute of Land Use Planning, 1987: 27, as per Mbiba, 1994: 192).

Although research on UA seems to have focused more on food crops than on animal husbandry, the available data reveal that livestock keeping is particularly amenable to farming in small urban spaces and where soils are less fertile or water scarce (even space-scarce Cairo in the early 1980s had at least 80,000 households home-raising animals (Reed 1984, cited by Khouri-Dagher 1987: 41)). It can combine with plant cultivation to give a highly productive farming system (Siau and Yurjevic, 1993). It is less visible and less easily surveyed, thus often more widespread and profitable than generally reported. Some forms are less affordable to low-income farmers and most forms are subject to more controls than plant cultivation in general.

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revised, June 12,1995

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