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The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published “Pastoralism: making variability work” (2021, Animal Production & Health Paper 185, 58pp) written by Saverio Krätli and Ilse Koehler-Rollefsen with comments and guidance from FAO staff and pastoralist specialists worldwide.

Pastoral systems have evolved to function with the natural environment and therefore with variability. By identifying variability as an entry point, this publication aims: i) to engage FAO in mainstreaming pastoralism by establishing a good understanding of pastoralism and its systematic inclusion in the normal operations of FAO; and ii) to present an evidence-based narrative on pastoralism to a specialist audience.

This document makes two main point: i) pastoral systems are emblematic of farming with nature; and ii) pastoral systems make use of variability in inputs (in the environment) by matching this with variability in their own operational processes (flexibility in movements, animal breeds, labour force, etc.) in such a way as to reduce the variability in outputs (animal production & health, household food security etc).