The writeshop that formed the basis of this book was co-organized by the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development, the LIFE (Local Livestock for Empowerment) Network, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature–World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (IUCN–WISP) with the support of the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG).
Throughout the world and over centuries, small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists have developed animal breeds that are well suited to their local conditions. These breeds are hardy and disease-resistant; they can survive on little water and scant vegetation. They can continue producing meat and milk in areas where modern, imported breeds succumb without expensive housing, feed and veterinary care. They enable people to earn a living in otherwise inhospitable areas, and embody valuable genetics for future breeding efforts. Nevertheless, these breeds are in danger of disappearing, pushed out by modern production techniques and out-competed by exotic breeds. Finding niche markets for their products is one possible way of ensuring the survival of these breeds, and enabling the people who keep them to earn more from their existing lifestyle.