Although pastoral communities make significant contributions to the meat, dairy, leather and wool industries in the country, and are thought to be more climate resilient than many other rural communities, there is a growing pace of sedentarisation amongst these communities. This is linked to stagnant livelihood options, growing difficulties of obtaining adequate forage, and to a social stigma associated with mobility that has led the younger generation to move away from pastoralism. This is troubling on many counts. Pastoralist youth often end up in menial jobs with few chances of economic advancement. By way of contrast, pastoralism offers the potential for remunerative livelihood options, premised on appropriate investments by the government or the private sector, and, on having adequate access to the forage they need. The move away from pastoralism is also problematic on account of the loss of knowledge systems that have been responsible for breeding a large part of India’s bovine domesticated animal population, including many highly productive breeds that populate Indian mainstream dairies. And lastly, mobile animal husbandry has been associated with biologically diverse landscapes, and reduced grazing by pastoralists may well undermine the diversity of these grasslands and forests.
Our work is aimed at stemming the pace of such sedentarisation, and is structured around interventions aimed at enhancing the returns from pastoralism (via state or private investments in technology, design or infrastructure), in obtaining mainstream recognition of pastoralist breeds, and by securing more assured access to the forage pastoralists require (via the use of the Forest Rights Act). Complimenting these interventions are our efforts to undertake or facilitate research on pastoralism and policy outreach that targets a wide-cross section of society.
CfP has a relatively small team and facilitates scaled work on pastoralism via partnerships with civil society, academia, government and the private sector.