Sheep farming in Wales: confronting uncertainties from foot-and-mouth to Brexit

The PASTRES team recently visited South Wales to learn about sheep farming in the UK. We were hosted by former IDS colleague and pastoralism expert, Jeremy Swift, and had extended discussions in his amazing garden, as well as meeting some of his sheep-farming neighbours.

Sheep were all over the news when we visited: Boris Johnson had just visited nearby Brecon to fight a by-election, while sheep farmers warned of ‘civil unrest’ if no-deal Brexit was pursued. News reports suggested that sheep farming would be wiped out by a no-deal Brexit due to lack of free trade with the rest of Europe. Uncertainties were on everyone’s lips.

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Catch-up with the work of the PASTRES project

The PASTRES team has been very busy over the past months, preparing for the fieldwork phase. The PhD student group presented their research outlines to an invited audience – both at IDS in Sussex and online – to much acclaim! They are now revising their plans in the light of comments and heading to the field during August and September. For the coming year, the PASTRES team will be spread out over several continents – in Sardinia, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India and China. Look out for profiles of the students’ projects on this blog in September/October, and more news from the field sites in the coming months.

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Pastoralism in the Arabian Peninsula – Reflections on Contemporary Challenges and Adaptations to Land Use Rights

Nomadic pastoralism in the Arabian Peninsula has undergone significant change over the past 150 years as a response to alterations in its relationship with central authority.  Efforts to settle and transform pastoralists into settled farmers – a key policy of Post WWI neo-colonial and later newly emerging nation states – has largely disappeared. Instead, we see concentrated drives to label such communities as backward, economically irrational, and obsolete.  More recently, a policy of ‘benign’ neglect has permitted pastoral communities in Arabia to adapt, resist and face new challenges from multinational extractive industry, global conservation organizations, and climate change. You can watch the video of this seminar organised by PASTRES at IDS on 11th June 2019 below.

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Herders for hire

All over pastoral regions, an increasing presence of hired herders or shepherds is reported. Hiring herding labour to take care of the livestock of wealthier households is not new; this phenomenon is, however, intensifying across pastoral settings. The shift from household labour to an external, salaried workforce in herding activities is reshaping pastoralists’ responses to uncertainties.

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Pastoralism in the uncertainty of war and exile: insights from Jordan

By Mathilde Gingembre (Independent researcher, PASTRES affiliate)

An uncertain future

What can we learn from the way pastoralists deal with uncertainty?  This powerful question, at the heart of PASTRES’ work, immediately resonated with me. Observing pastoral dynamics here in Jordan, where I currently live, I began asking myself: What are the conditions for pastoralists’ continuous adaptiveness? Is there not a point where we can say that there is simply no more space for adaptability?

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What can our increasingly mobile world learn from pastoralists?

A recent PASTRES seminar at the Robert Schuman Centre at the European University in Florence discussed mobility, and how lessons from pastoralists might be important for thinking about policy themes such as international migration and cross-border trade. The recording of the seminar and slides are below.

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Challenging desertification myths

Tales of desertification across the world’s drylands are a recurrent theme in policy. This week’s blog reviews an excellent book that takes issue with many of the assumptions around desertification – The End of Desertification? Disputing Environmental Change in the Drylands. It was edited by Roy Behnke, an anthropologist with deep knowledge of pastoral areas in North and Southern Africa, West Asia and more, and Michael Mortimore, sadly now late, a development geographer, who knew a huge amount about the drylands of Africa, and particularly northern Nigeria.

The full review is available in the excellent open access journal, Pastoralism. You can download the full pdf here. In this blog, we reproduce a slightly abridged version.

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How pastoralists can help us deal with the unexpected

Ann Waters-Bayer offers a short video commentary, reflecting on the PASTRES project. Since her work in West Africa, particularly on women’s roles in milk production, Ann has been a major supporter of pastoral development. Until her retirement, she worked for 25 years with the ETC Foundation, particularly around issues of farmer-led innovation, and was editor of the ILEIA magazine and a founder of Prolinnova (among many other things!). An important publication for PASTRES research was the manual ‘Planning with Pastoralists’, produced with Wolfgang Bayer, focusing on participatory methods.

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