Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics, October 4, 2017,


Copyright 2017 University of Nebraska.


As in Nebraska and other cattle-producing states, livestock are an important source of income for hundreds of millions of people living in developing countries. However, for livestock keepers in developing countries, animals are often central to multiple dimensions of the family’s existence, providing—in addition to income—important sources of energy-dense, nutrient-rich animal source foods, generating cultural status, including playing a role in family formation through wedding dowries, and serving, for some, as the household’s primary store of wealth. Livestock play all of these roles in pastoralist—semi-nomadic livestock-keeping—communi-ties. While in the past pastoralism was a relatively common way of life throughout the world, today pastoralists are few and typically inhabit marginal, rural lands, which makes it harder for them to access important services, such as education, and human and livestock health resources. Researchers also estimate that pastoralists are frequently among the poorest members of the societies they inhabit.