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Wageningen University (2020)

How households feed their cows : using a performance lens to study socio-cultural dynamics and creative adaptive capacities in the adjustments of smallholder dairy households in Chepalungu sub-county, Kenya

Koeijer, Jan de

Titre : How households feed their cows : using a performance lens to study socio-cultural dynamics and creative adaptive capacities in the adjustments of smallholder dairy households in Chepalungu sub-county, Kenya

Auteur : Koeijer, Jan de

Université de soutenance : Wageningen University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) Knowledge, Technology and Innovation 2020

Résumé
NGOs and policy makers have been pushing the adoption of ‘best practices’ related to feed management towards intensification and increasing dry spell resistance, but the adoption of these best practices by smallholder farmers is low. This thesis aims to better understand the feeding practices of smallholder dairy households (HHs) in Chepalungu sub-county, Kenya, and draws on a qualitative approach consisting of participatory observations and life histories of five HHs and 26 stakeholder interviews during eight weeks of fieldwork. Following the conceptual framework of agriculture as performance, this thesis focuses on how HHs adjust their feeding practice over time and what role socio-cultural dynamics and the creative adaptive capacities of HH members play. The practice of feeding cows is predominantly an emergent outcome of adjustments in other practices. The cow is herein considered a highly valuable asset (social status/financial buffer) that has to be kept alive at all costs and converts non-edible organic/waste products into high quality food, predominantly for home consumption. This makes the urge to grow maize, that is present in all studied households, and the socio-cultural dynamic of food preferences and gender roles that shape this urge, relevant to understand the practice of feeding cows. Different household members together employ various creative adaptive capacities in ensuring cows are fed in dry periods, other than the propagated feed conservation strategies. As a manifestation of local believes and a risk mitigation capacities, fodder exchange with personal relations functions as an important feed buffer in dry spells for more marginalized households. The width of practices, socio-cultural dynamics and capacities of HH members that shape the feeding practice need to be taken into account in (policy making) attempts to improve the cow’s diet.

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Page publiée le 16 avril 2021