Local knowledge and gender roles in different livestock production system in Tanzania


Women and men participation in the development of the livestock industry in Tanzania is determined by socio-cultural patterns, the livestock production system, local knowledge systems, existing agricultural policies, the educational system and economic and the political situations prevailing in the community. It is difficult to generalise the gender roles in all the livestock production systems, but similar patterns and trends have been unfolding as found out from several studies carried out by the authors. The main points investigated are who owns the animals, who is responsible for their care and how is work divided up and shared out (feeding, watering, milking, stable cleaning and hygienic measures). Other aspects of interest are decision-making, treating and caring of the sick animals, processing and marketing of animal products, the control of family income and assets and access to services such as veterinary, extension, co-operatives and credit facilities. The livestock production studies were conducted in Morogoro, Tanga, Iringa, Mwanza, Mbeya, Mara and Kilimanjaro regions. Districts in these regions were purposely chosen to represent one type production system such as pastoralism, agro-pastoralism and intensive specialized production. The general trend deduced from literature and studies carried out by the authors is that men in all livestock production systems own and are responsible for large animals such as cattle, donkey, sheep, pigs and goats whereas, women are responsible for small ones such as poultry, rabbits and ducks. However, in some systems women feed the large animals and calves, and are called to assist in their health-related issues. Poultry production although very important for women as a source of food and cash, has a very low status in the society and extension services rendered. The pastoralists and agro-pastoralists are still practicing traditional animal husbandry. Intensive livestock farmers have specialized into keeping a few high milk-yielding dairy animals mainly pure-breeds or crossbreeds at zero grazing. Despite advances in veterinary medicines and services, traditional an d local methods of tackling health problems and diseases of livestock were still practised by almost all production systems studied. It was noted that livestock played an important link in the household food security as a source of food and cash for buying other needed food products. This paper will discuss local knowledge systems in the different livestock production systems and its contribution to food security. Analysis will also be made of the quantitative and qualitative participation of men and women in different animal husbandry practices and on other productive, reproductive, socio-cultural activities and access and control over resources. A list of local herbs used for treatment of various animal health problems and diseases will also be discussed.



Local knowledge, gender roles, livestock production, Tanzania