Non Conventional Livestock for Better Livelihood: Prospects of Domestic Cavy in Mixed Production Systems of Tanzania
Similar to majority of Sub-Saharan African countries, Tanzania depends largely on small and large ruminants, poultry and seafood to meet its animal protein needs. While most of the nonconventional protein sources are hunted, domestication of some of the species is equally promoted because hunting harvests cannot provide sustainable and affordable meats. Meanwhile, there have been growing demands for white meats, especially among the middle and high income population classes, exacerbated by changes in eating and living habits. Recent reports have identified domestic cavy (Cavia porcellus L.) as a right delicacy. This small pseudo ruminant that is also referred to as guinea pig or as Pimbi or Simbilisi in Kiswahili, is adopted in rural and urban households in Tanzania. This paper highlights on prospects of production of cavies focusing on the mixed production systems of Central Tanzania, where identified farmers keep a few cavy families either in own pens in a compound or within living houses of owners. Results indicated that farmers have such major reasons as keeping cavies for food (37%) or cash income (33%). Inadequate knowledge on improved husbandry practices was the most limiting constraint (38%) in the study sites where cavy keeping hinges on local knowledge and locally available feed resources. Therefore, innovative approaches and more attention from research and extension services are called for to improve production, consumption and marketing of cavies and other non-conventional meat sources as stipulated in the national livestock policy.