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Posts with label 'Livestock'
Nang Suwannaprateep (right) of Sakon Nakhon's Kok Klang village told us that she loves her pigs ‘like her own children. (Photo by Saowalak J./DAI)

As the USAID Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (USAID Mekong ARCC) project guided communities at sites in Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam through a participatory decision making process to identify adaptation activities, what became increasingly clear was the value of livestock to community livelihoods across the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) and the vulnerabilities of those animals to the changing climate. Not only did communities rely on livestock as a means of immediate cash income, but also as financial security and household assets—water buffalo plow the rice fields, chickens lay protein rich eggs to sell and consume, and of course, pigs provide adorable piglets that can grow up to be breeders themselves or are sold at markets.

In the dry season, villagers in Chey Commune and other rural areas of the LMB often face severe food and livelihood insecurity that affects both them and their livestock. (Cr. Shannon Dugan/DAI)

By my third trip to Chey Commune in Cambodia’s Kampong Thom Province, I am now accustomed to the nearly four hour drive. After the asphalt ends about an hour outside of the capital, Phnom Penh, we bump along on a mainly dirt and gravel road for what feels like an eternity. Outside my window, the landscape is flat. The lush rainforest that once stood here was removed long ago and now there are just a few classically tropical palm trees jutting up at random points in the distance.

Mr. Aleh instructs the two laborers he employed how to build his new ‘cool’ pig pit. (Photo: Joseph Vile/AMDI)

“Without the USAID Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (USAID Mekong ARCC) project, I wouldn’t have used this new system,” says Aleh Yangia, a farmer in Hae Ko village who joined USAID Mekong ARCC and its partner IUCN Thailand, on a study tour to a neighboring village that is successfully raising pigs in a new integrated pig pit system. For Aleh and many other villagers living in northern Thailand’s Hae Ko hill tribe community, raising pigs is an integral part of their lives. Not only do they serve as a critical protein source for the community and provide supplementary income, they are also culturally important as a ceremonial gift.

Tom Weaver, the Livestock Team Leader

The consumption of livestock derived products is rapidly increasing in the Lower Mekong River Basin.  This is largely attributed to increasing standards of living and household incomes. Improvements in production, processing and postharvest practices present new opportunities for livestock owners, but also greater competition. But what might happen to livestock in the not-so-distant future as a result of climate change? How might smallholders remain competitive in terms of production costs, increasing their access to output markets and building system resilience to climate change? Finding answers to these types of questions and others to inform producers who are faced with critical economic decisions is not easy.

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