Technological innovation for family beef cattle production in the South American Chaco.
Uptake of technologies in management and infrastructure, forage and feeding, herd management and animal health are vital to improving the sustainability of family livestock systems in this region.
Context of the story
The South American Chaco, which spans parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia, is the second largest native forest reserve in the Americas (110 million hectares). This region faces the pressing challenge of harnessing its productive potential while conserving the forest and its ecosystem services. Family livestock farming (99% of total producers) integrated within the forest is the least environmentally impactful productive activity. However, it still maintains very low levels of productivity, with weaning rates at 45%, whereas farmers who can incorporate technology and improve their infrastructure achieve rates of 85-90%. The adoption of technology is vital to improve efficiency, stability, and resilience in family livestock systems.
The implemented initiative
This project seeks to improve the efficiency, stability and resilience of family beef production systems.
1) Productive systems were surveyed in each of the agroecological zones and alternative improved practices were proposed.
2) A network of pilot sites in farmers' fields was assembled, to adapt, evaluate and demonstrate proposed technologies to ranchers.
3) A technical assistance and training plan for family beef production innovation is being implemented.
4) A system for the registration and monitoring of cattle farms is being developed, with evaluation of technological uptake and the effects on the productive system.
Tools to address the problems
The technological solution
With a participatory approach, extension agents and producers agreed the critical technologies to be implemented in each pilot site, which were grouped into 4 types:
a) fodder and food: pasture implantation, preparation of fodder reserves, stock adjustment according to fodder supply and animal requirements, and improvement of grazing systems;
b) Infrastructure and business management: field divisions, water collection and distribution systems; registration and monitoring of administrative performance indicators.
c) Animal health: Adaptation of the health plan to the system and the area, control of parasitic and infectious diseases and bull evaluation.
d) Herd management: monitoring of animal body condition, elimination of unproductive categories, supplementation of calves and heifers, seasonal breeding, pregnancy diagnosis and early weaning.
"Taking the bushes out and sowing pastures allowed me to transform an impoverished forest into a productive field. I did not believe it was possible!
- An updated characterization of family cattle systems in the Chaco region and technological alternatives to be incorporated into intervention strategies.
- An installed network of 90 pilot sites across the 3 countries, which have applied technological improvements and serve as demonstrative and training units during the project and afterwards.
- Producers, extension agents and advisors trained in bovine production in the Chaco. A virtual livestock innovation course for the region that can be scaled up to other producers will be available.
- Information available on productivity indicators, level of uptake of the proposed technological alternatives and their effect on the productivity of family livestock systems.