Working groups

Working groups bring together PASTRES researchers and others with expertise around particular areas of interest for pastoralism. Contact for more information.

Pastoral Milk Marketing

Milk is a pillar of the pastoral economy. It’s also increasingly becoming a commodity. Demand is growing for animal products around the globe; and pastoral economies and societies are becoming more integrated into local, national and international markets.

As pastoral products like milk become commodified, they continue to provide food, income and employment for a significant part of the pastoral population; they also become a point of contact with agents involved in markets, as well as other farming and urban community.

Marketing milk and dairy in pastoral areas is an uncertain business. Erratic climates, and seasonal patterns of production are among the variables. So too are the social and logistical arrangements behind collecting, transporting, buying and selling milk in dryland settings. Pastoralists also need to negotiate relationships with market agents and consumers, and respond to institutional and regulatory frameworks.

For many pastoralists, engaging with markets means reconfiguring the way they manage herds and mobility, land use patterns and labour. Hired herders are used more often, mobility decreases, and there are mosaics of over- and under-grazed areas. Milk products from different animals have their own varied features: from shelf-life and processing options, to consumer preferences, nutritional value and market prices.

PASTRES is exploring the social networks and value chains around pastoral milk, and what happens when milk transforms from a social good into a commodity. We are also interested in how pastoral milk is affected by policy making around food security and food safety. The challenges of climate change and population growth in pastoral regions make these questions even more relevant.

Video: Watch presentations on this theme at a workshop on ‘Territorial changes and livelihood transformations’ in November 2021, given by Riccardo Ciavolella, Aniruddh Sheth and Roba B. Jilo.

Our working group on milk in pastoral areas includes contributions from Giulia Simula, PASTRES/CFS, Sergio Magnani, CIRAD/Selmet, France, Ilse Köhler-Rollefson, League of Pastoral Peoples, M. Fatih Tatari, University of California, Davis, Adamou Amadou, Mboscuda (Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association), Ismail Muna, IOFC Initiatives of Change International, Geneva, Chloe Stull-Lane, SPARC innovation programme, Domenica Farinella, Universitá di Messina, Aniruddh Sheth, Centre for Pastoralism, Riccardo Ciavolella, IIAC/EHESS, Roba B. Jilo, Tufts University, and Olivier Wasonga, University of Nairobi.

Land Use Changes in Agro-Pastoral Areas

Pastoralism relies on land, but there are many uncertainties that affect how land can be used.

These uncertainties include those that are ecological (eg climate change, fire events, wildlife), economic (eg pastoral areas being integrated into market dynamics, the commoditization of pastoral products and services) and institutional (eg the impact of policy frameworks and subsidy schemes).  

Analysing changes in the patterns of land use could provide useful information about how livelihoods, economies and landscapes are transforming in pastoral regions.

The activities of the Land Use working group will be inspired by two PASTRES studies, which compare how land use is changing in pastoral settings in northern Sardinia and in northern Kenya. In both areas, pastoral milk is being commercialised, leading the pastoral economy to become integrated into wider markets. This process is a major driving force in transforming local landscapes and livelihoods.

The Land Use working group also explores the relationships between pastoralism and ‘socio-ecosystem services’. Examples include the possibility of averting depopulation in inner mountainous and dryland areas, and the uses of pastoral grazing as a preventive measure against fire outbreaks. These services appear increasingly relevant in the context of climate change, which affects most agro-pastoral regions.

Video: Watch presentations on this theme at a workshop on ‘Territorial changes and livelihood transformations’ in November 2021, given by Matilde Schirru, Antonello Franca and Michele Nori.

Our working group on Land Use includes contributions from Matilde Schirru, CNR–IBE / National Research Council (BioEconomy Institute), Sassari, Antonello Franca, CNR- ISPAAM, Sassari, Pablo Manzano, BC3-Basque Centre for Climate Change, Dimitrios Chouvardas, University of Thessaloniki, Carla Lostrangio, EuroMontana, Brussels, Ryan Unks, National Science Foundation National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), University of Maryland / PASTRES, Sarah Lunaček, University of Ljubljana, Troy Sternberg, University of Oxford, Luigi Piemontese, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Francesca Camilli, CNR–IBE;  National Research Council (BioEconomy Institute), Florence, Elsa Varela, Centre de Ciència i Tecnologia Forestal de Catalunya, María Turiño, Entretantos, Spain, Pedro M. Herrera, Entretantos, Spain, Alberto Bernués, Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón (CITA), and Giuseppe Pulina, Nucleo Ricerca Desertificazione, Università di Sassari.