|Livestock Research for Rural Development 29 (10) 2017||Guide for preparation of papers||LRRD Newsletter||
Citation of this paper
The Peruvian llama population counts about 1 million animals and the sale of meat and breeding animals is of economic importance for about 95,000 smallholders. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors hindering a higher productivity, one of them are well established breeding programs. Community-based breeding programs (CBBP) have recently been proposed as a possible solution for resource-poor farmers as their ideas, concepts and organization are reflected. This paper analyses the interaction of farmers with other stakeholders relevant for the llama sector using a case study of the implementation of CBBP in the Central Highlands of Peru. A multi-stakeholder consultation process was started at the beginning of the implementation of the breeding program. This process involved personal interviews with farmers, but also a series of workshops with farmers, representatives of local government, an NGO and universities. Workshops were used as information platforms on breeding programs, but also to discuss and agree on level of involvement, roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders in a breeding program. This case study shows that a CBBP is only viable if the enabling environment is provided. Technical support has to be provided by local institutions and financial support has to be ensured. Therefore, all relevant stakeholders should be included right from the initiation of the breeding program.
Key words: Andes, development agencies, farmers
Llamas are an essential cornerstone in the livelihoods of about 95,000 families living in extreme poverty in the Peruvian Andes (INEI 2012). They are kept and managed by resource-poor livestock keepers under harsh environmental conditions. The production system can be characterized as a low-input low-output system (Gutierrez et al 2012). Lack of adequate pasture management, breeding strategies, and animal health interventions are frequently mentioned as main problems to increase the level of production (Ruiz et al 2004, FAO 2005).
Until today llama keepers have not got sufficient attention and support by research and development actors in Peru. The focus of interventions was on alpacas as they provide highly valued fiber for the textile industry. Llama keepers are left alone in improving their management; except for some isolated interventions by NGOs or the government. There are not only technical, but also infrastructural and organizational factors impeding the improvement of the production. Llama keepers have limited access to markets and marketing information and a support system providing inputs (e.g. veterinary drugs) and training is missing.
The agricultural innovation systems theory emphasizes the importance of the interaction of various stakeholders and highlights the importance of co-operation between them for the further development of a sector (Hall et al 2006; Klerkx et al 2010; Kilelu et al 2013). Agricultural innovation systems are defined as “a network of organizations, enterprises, and individuals focused on bringing new products, new processes, and new forms of organization into economic use, together with the institutions and policies that affect the way different agents interact, share, access, exchange and use knowledge” (Hall et al 2006).
Klerkx et al (2012) state that the complexity of challenges faced by farmers has to be addressed simultaneously by working together in networks or platforms. Innovation platforms, also called multi-actor platforms, have gained more attention in research and development activities in the last years. In these forums different stakeholders meet, exchange ideas and work towards a common goal (Kilelu et al 2013). Triomphe et al (2007) explain that the development of governance set-ups (dealing with decision making processes, coordination, steering, conflict management) and operational set-ups (dealing with the implementation of activities) of such platforms requires time as trust among different stakeholders has to be developed over time.
Community-based breeding programs (CBBPs) are seen as a possible new approach to implement sustainable breeding programs under smallholder conditions (Mueller et al 2015). The core idea of these programs is that farmers themselves are the owner of the breeding program, and, therefore, their ideas, concepts and objectives are reflected. It is assumed that this will ultimately lead to sustainable programs in the long run.
Nevertheless, community-based breeding programs that are mostly managed by farmers themselves need support from various stakeholders such as research, but also development agencies and governmental institutions. This dimension of stakeholder´s involvement during the planning and implementation phase of locally organised breeding programs has received less attention, but also needs to be addressed to ensure sustainability in the long-term perspective. However, Kosgey et al (2006) mention that breeding programs should be backed up by a strong extension service available in the region of intervention. Wurzinger et al (2011) and Kosgey and Okeyo (2007) explain that an enabling environment is required to make breeding programs a success, but without further explanation how the process of interaction could be implemented.
This paper aims to describe the process of interaction and engagement of different stakeholders observed during the start-up phase of two community-based breeding programs for llamas in the Central Highlands of Peru. This paper highlights problems encountered, and lessons learned.
This study presents results from two externally funded research and development projects that were jointly implemented by the University Nacional Agraria La Molina from Lima and BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria. The time frame considered in this paper covers the years from 2011-2014. Two sites in the Central Andes of Peru have been selected for the implementation of a community-based breeding program. In the region of Junin, only farmers from one community were invited, whereas in the region of Pasco farmers from different communities were invited to participate in the establishment of the breeding program. A multi-stakeholder consultation process in each study region was the starting point for the design of community-based breeding programs.
During this initial phase, a survey with personal interviews with 126 farmers was carried out. A questionnaire covering various topics (herd management, socio-economic data of farmers, main challenges and problems, production and reproduction data) was used for data collection. Details about breeding practices and local strategies about the exchange of breeding animals were collected to get a first insight into the social networks of the smallholders in the region. Additionally, three cooperatives in the Pasco region were included in the sample as they have larger llama herds and might be important for the establishment of breeding strategies.
Also, a series of workshops with farmers, representatives of local government, the head of Alpacas and Llamas Genealogy Registry in Pasco Region of the Regional Department of Agriculture, an NGO, and universities were held. These platforms were used to distribute information on breeding programs, but also to discuss and agree on the level of involvement, roles, and responsibilities of different stakeholders in a breeding program.
Repeated field visits were performed to explain to different farmers the main objective of a breeding program. There were also discussions held to explain that breeding activities should also be accompanied by supporting actions (e.g. veterinary service, pasture improvement).
Another component of the project was training for farmers. Based on the expressed needs and interests different topics were covered in the training program.
The different methods (individual interviews, workshops, field visits) were used to triangulate and validate the information.
The production system can be described as a low-input low-output system. Farmers usually rear different species such as llamas, alpacas, and sheep. The survey data shows that farmers have a strong interest in llama rearing but invest little in improving their management practices as market incentives are missing. All farmers stated that llamas are mainly kept for meat production, but mentioned low meat prices and limited market access as major problems. Meat is mainly consumed in the households, but surplus animals are sold to traders. Farmers reported some problems in selling llama meat as it is not well known by consumers in urban areas. As the meat has very similar characteristics as alpaca meat traders sometimes try to sell it under this name. The sale of breeding males within the region, but also to other regions of Peru is an additional source of income as they get good prices at animal shows. The majority (91%) of the interviewees has not got any external support from agencies (e.g. training) for improving their herd management. Farmers mentioned only one NGO working on llamas, which provides training. These results show that there are no well-developed connections between the different actors in place and farmers are left alone with their problems. Further details of the survey can be found in Gutierrez et al (2012) and Wolfinger (2012).
A series of workshops with farmers were carried out separately in both study regions to discuss the implementation of a community-based breeding program. As farmers indicated in the individual interviews that they receive almost no support from external institutions, these first workshops were used to identify different stakeholders considered important for the set-up of a breeding program. In Junin, farmers could not identify any institution currently working in the region, but mentioned the Ministry of Agriculture as a possible contact given its national mandate. Whereas in Pasco farmers came up with a list of different actors such as a local NGO FODESA (Asociación Fomento y Promoción para el Desarrollo Andino), the local university UNDAC (Universidad Nacional Daniel Alcides Carrion), the regional department of agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture. FODESA provides technical support to farmers in improving the management of llamas. This NGO has also started with a small nucleus herd in one community, which could be included in the design of a breeding strategy. The local university UNDAC has a mandate for working in Pasco region and is therefore not involved in activities in the region of Junin. UNDAC has currently very limited research, education and extension activities related to llamas and alpacas as there is not enough trained personnel available. Therefore, outreach activities remain scarce. The regional department of agriculture handles the registration of breeding animals in the official national database of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Agriculture was the only institution mentioned in both regions as a stakeholder as it has a national mandate for implementing policies. E.g. The Ministry implemented the policy for the registration of llamas and alpacas. At the moment, this database is only used for registration purposes of animals, but for no further interventions such as breeding activities.
INIA-Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agraria has a national mandate to carry out research in all aspects related to the improvement of llama husbandry such as genetic conservation and improvement plans, reproduction, animal health, and nutrition. As INIA concentrates its work in the South of Peru, farmers from the central region don´t identify this governmental institution relevant for their activities.
In Peru, there is no national extension agency that provides service to farmers. This role is partly taken over by local universities, but with a limited scope.
Interestingly, SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria) one institution that has not been identified as a possible stakeholder by farmers participated in one workshop and showed interest in the planned activities. SENASA highlighted that there were no adequate facilities available to slaughter animals in the region and mentioned that topics of animal health have to be considered while developing breeding strategies to minimize the risk of spreading diseases.
After the first discussions with farmers, it was clear that the initial idea of having one joint breeding program for both study regions would not work out due to different factors. The long distance between sites, location in different political departments and involvement of different stakeholders in both regions led to the decision of developing different strategies for both regions.
In a next step, the research team had informal meetings with all mentioned stakeholders separately to inform them about the proposed breeding program and explored possible options of collaboration. As the feedback from all contacted persons was positive, the development and research organizations were invited to participate in the workshops jointly with farmers for further discussions. These meetings were announced on the local radio program and were open for anybody interested in the topic.
The aim of these workshops was to explore in more detail different forms of cooperation and also to formalize it. The findings in the workshops confirmed the results from the individual interviews. The support of llama keepers by different institutions is very limited or almost not existing in the Central Andes, despite the official politics of the Peruvian government. This current situation of missing commitment of local institutions is problematic for the establishment of a breeding program, which requires skilled technical personnel in the field.
During the initial phase of the project, it was not possible for the project team to engage more in a formal discussion with traders. Farmers repeatedly complained about the dominant role of the traders as they can dictate the price for llamas. It was noted that in a possible next project phase more emphasis has to be given to discuss possible collaboration options.
The first phase of getting to know each other, identifying stakeholders and bringing them together took about nine months. Different authors (Kristjanson et al 2009, Neef and Neubert 2011) stressed the importance that sufficient time has to be allocated to this initial first step. This is often again the very strict work plan of research and development projects where donors would like to see immediate results in the short run (Wurzinger et al 2011).
This consultation process can be described as an iterative process as discussions with different stakeholders are held consecutively, and they may join at different points in time. As the project evolved new farmers got to know the project and decided to link up with the project team. This situation requires some degree of flexibility of the research team as they have to be able to respond to new demands by farmers.
During this start-up phase, the role of scientists is more of a facilitator and moderator, providing technical input and advice. Triomphe et al (2007) explain the importance of developing negotiation skills by all parties. Asymmetry in negotiation power by different stakeholders has to be considered during this process. Farmers might not be willing to express openly in a workshop their opinion and argue against governmental representatives or the research team.
It is also recognized by different authors that personal attitude of researchers and other stakeholders is a key factor of success for the implementation of any intervention (Hoffmann et al 2007; Neef and Neubert 2011; Wurzinger et al 2011). But a commitment not only of individual people, but also of institutions has to be assured.
Different breeding strategies were developed as interest, but also the number of involved parties varied between study sites. In the community in Junin, the community assembly discussed the establishment of a technical committee for the breeding program, but this idea did not get a majority of the votes. Therefore, it was agreed that decisions on the breeding program are made by the members of the assembly itself. This strategy resulted in a delay in getting an agreement with farmers, who are keeping llamas. In this community, the term of the president and his team ended and after the elections a new team took over the responsibilities. Therefore, the project team had to re-start discussions and explanations with the new political leaders. After some consultations, they were convinced that they would like to continue with the collaboration. This strategy might be reassessed in the future as it makes the technical cooperation more dependent on the political will of the community leaders. It might be more suitable to build up a breeders association in the long run or to establish a technical committee within the community assembly dealing with all aspects related to the breeding program. Nevertheless, the research team decided to accept the decision of the community for the moment and to evaluate the progress of the cooperation over a longer period. The community agreed to dedicate a certain part of the communal land for keeping a nucleus herd.
In the first workshop in Pasco, farmers agreed to form an organization committee to organize follow-up meetings to discuss the formation of an Association of llama keepers. The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture was a member of the committee to ensure links to the official policies of the country. After a longer consultation process, all interested farmers agreed to form a local breeders association called PROLLAMA. A total of 70 farmers from 20 different communities are registered. The Association has a set of by-laws and governance structure with a steering committee composed of a president, vice-president, treasurer and two more committee members.
This association is officially recognized by governmental institutions. This legal status is important as it gives the association the negotiation power to discuss with the local government possible support actions. It can also be part of the “participatory budgeting process” where representatives of civil society can co-decide on the expenditures of the regional government on development projects.
Simple data recording routines such as the format for ear tagging, measurements of body weight at different growth stages and pedigree information of newly born animals were agreed with farmers. A database has been developed and is hosted by UNALM-University. At the moment, technical staff from UNALM handles data collection. The local university UNDAC has shown interest in the breeding program and has plans to start with a nucleus herd, but does not take over any key role at the moment. FODESA also has a small nucleus herd and discussions are held to incorporate these animals into a breeding program.
But there are no formal agreements yet made. Unsecure funding opportunities for the NGO, but also for the universities to support llama keepers were identified as one of the major limitations. Also, missing technical know-how in animal breeding in the various institutions was also recognized as problematic.
As breeding activities are long-term investments and first results can be only obtained after a longer period, it is essential to have accompanying measurements. These activities help to keep farmers interested during the initial phase (Mueller et al 2015). Therefore, the project team developed based on the farmers needs training components. One topic was the genetic improvement of livestock with emphasis on llamas, and another topic was parasitic diseases in alpacas and llamas. Also, farmers asked to organize field demonstrations regarding topics addressed in the short courses. Therefore, field visits were organized, and one activity was to demonstrate physical appraisal of animals. This activity helps farmers to get a common understanding in the selection of breeding stock. The other activity was a training of collecting methods for feces for parasitology analysis.
The research team explained in different meetings the point that a breeding program can only be successful if there are a long-term commitment and interest from different actors and cooperation is sought. Farmers repeatedly expressed their interest in cooperation as they would like to improve their livelihoods and see llama rearing as one possible alternative. A better-managed llama herd would make them less dependent on the highly volatile alpaca fiber market. Farmers dedicate time in discussions and regularly participate in the meetings of PROLLAMA, which can be seen as an indicator of interest. But they also expect to have responsible counterparts dedicated to the topic.
PROLLAMA is very active and has a booth at animal shows to inform farmers about its activities and use these opportunities to sell locally products of its members. This success of the association can be attributed mainly to some very dedicated members of the committee.
The llama sector can be further developed, but requires more long-term and continuous commitment from policies. Policy makers are not aware of the technical problems that farmers are confronted with.
These breeding programs are only viable if more permanent financial and technical support is provided. Within the next years, enough capacities have to be developed that the breeding program can be managed locally. This would require a stronger engagement of the local university and the regional department of agriculture, which has as one major role the technical support of farmers. This approach would also require more well-trained staff members employed by the regional department.
UNALM can support local activities by providing technical backstopping, but would hand over the lead role to a local organization. This would reduce costs and allows a closer follow-up on daily activities required for the implementation of the breeding program.
The challenge is to ensure that the interest raised is not lost and that all interested parties keep on searching for possible solutions and alternative funding options.
The authors express their gratitude to KEF-Commission for Development Research at OeAD-GmbH, the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research and FAO-Food and Agriculture Organization for financial support. The authors acknowledge the support of field staff and students, who were active in data collection and are also grateful for the cooperation with the farmers in the study regions, who are dedicated to their llamas.
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Received 17 July 2017; Accepted 24 August 2017; Published 3 October 2017
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