Peasant livestock producers are particularly disadvantaged internationally and within their national systems because their political participation tends to be mediated through patron-client ties. The consequence is that poor producers most often trade their collective interests for very modest individual (or village) benefits. These patron-client networks are now being extended internationally, generally making them still less advantageous. Eventually poor livestock producers will address their interests through political associations (i.e. horizontal groupings of peers) rather than clientage (which is vertical in orientation). In the meantime, however, without outside help they are unlikely to engage in effective proactive political action on issues related to their collective interests as producers.
This paper analyzes political organization and action that can be used to, at least partially, overcome the lack of voice of poor producers in the domestic and international policy arenas. The study builds on a series of country case studies carried out under the supervision of the author (Vietnam, India, Ethiopia, Senegal, Bolivia and the EC) and draws general conclusions on the roles various actors can play in shaping policies for pro-poor outcomes. Long term investments by NGOs and donors in the capacity of poor producers for political organization and use of networks of NGOs and peasant organizations that extend from the local through national to the international level are seen as ultimately having the greatest benefits for the poor.
A two page executive summary is also available in addition to this paper.
PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, iii+47pp.