Valuing Animal Genetic Resources: A Choice Modeling Application to Indigenous Cattle in Kenya
In an effort to improve productivity and profits many farmers have replaced traditional livestock breeds with higher yielding alternatives. While such changes may bring about short-term economic gains, the loss of traditional livestock breeds could result in the loss of an important genetic resource as a variety of important genetic traits adapted to local conditions gradually become less common in the population. This is a particular problem in Africa, where livestock make a substantial contribution to human livelihoods. Using the example of cattle in Kenya’s pastoral livestock markets this study uses a choice experiment approach to investigate buyers’ preferences for indigenous breeds such as the Maasai Zebu. The analysis employs a latent class approach to characterize heterogeneity in valuations both within and across respondents buying cattle for breeding, slaughter or resale. The results show that there are at least three classes of buyers with distinct preferences for cattle traits and that most buyers favor exotic rather than indigenous breeds. Such preferences have implications for the conservation of indigenous cattle in Kenya and in other developing countries and suggest that some form of intervention may be required to ensure the preservation of this important animal genetic resource.
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