Evolution of Pastoralism
- By the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, which began 2.6 million years ago and lasted until 11,700 years ago, both settled agriculture and pastoralism had begun. The latter, an expansive grazing system for livestock production, evolved as a source of sustenance as Homo sapiens transitioned to a new climate and a new phase of life.
- Pastoralism is still an economic activity for 100-200 million people across the world, including 13 million in India.
- One-fourth of the planet’s territorial surface is devoted to pastoralism.
Major Concerns related to the practice of Pastoralism
- According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization document called “Making way: developing national legal and policy frameworks for pastoral mobility” states that pastoralists are considered backwards looking and unproductive and have historically been undermined by adverse legislation and a lack of supportive legislation.
- Pastoralists are vulnerable to resource appropriation, sedentarisation and restrictions on mobility.
- The document highlighted that in the absence of legislation that protects and regulates mobility, pastoralists enter into conflict with other resource users and the state.
Pastoralism : A Climate -Resilient Alternative
- The studies have shown that Pastoral systems have more protein output per unit of feed than intensive systems. In India, they account for over 70 percent of total meat output and 50 percent of milk output.
- According to the “Meat Atlas 2021”, published by non-profits Heinrich Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth Europe, the livestock sector comprises 4.5 per cent of India’s GDP, with two-thirds coming from pastoralist production.
- Pastoralism also thrives around the cropping system as they benefit each other.
Eg: Crop residue on farms becomes fodder for grazing livestock, which in turn provides manure to the farmers.
- It has proved to be climate resilient and adaptive and is usually found in harsh climatic zones that are invariably the most resource-scarce.
- Environmental authorities across the world have termed grazing as a threat but Pastoralism is also practiced by the poorest communities in the harshest geographies.
- Policy support will thus make the economy of the poorest climate-resilient.