Economics head travels to Ethiopia to help ranchers succeed
DeeVon Bailey has plenty to work on in his job as the interim head of the Department of Economics and in his role as professor. One might not suspect that he’s also concerned about the marketing plans of sheepherders in Ethiopia.
For about five years, however, he has been part of a College of Natural Resources project that aims to help those in Ethiopia who herd livestock such as sheep, goats and camels to be more effective and successful. Livestock marketing is one of Dr. Bailey’s specialties.
The project, which is sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, helps these pastoralists, as they are called, diversify their income and more effectively market the livestock they sell, Dr. Bailey said..
Pastoralists who work in the highlands of Ethiopia face challenges as the populations of the highlands grow, reducing the areas available for them to raise their livestock. The ongoing threats of droughts can also impact their work. Bailey said they work with government agencies and directly with pastoralists to help them develop strategies so they won’t end up having to sell their livestock for a loss during times of drought. They help them diversify their income by teaching them to try other ways for creating income, such as raising honey.
"It’s not terribly sophisticated work, but it’s important work," Bailey said. "It’s really helping people make basic market decisions."
Dr. Bailey said he learns lessons about food supply chains in developing countries that he can share with students. He said ranchers can face some similar challenges here when there are problems with the food supply chain or when their income is not diversified.
"The issues are global," he said. "How do you deal with chronic low prices? The parallels are really striking."