Nota di Lavoro, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei 110.2001
World agriculture is based on a small number of animal species and a decreasing number of breeds within each species. Several breeds of West African shorthorn cattle (Bos taurus brachyceros) are now at high risk of extinction due to interbreeding. The West African shorthorn breeds are particularly important resources because of their superior abilities to resist diseases, particularly trypanosomosis, and be productive under high humidity, heat stress, water restriction and with poor quality feed. An analysis of farmers' breeding practices and breed preferences in a sample area in southwest Nigeria confirmed a strong trend away from trypanotolerant breeds, especially Muturu, and identified the traits farmers find least desirable in these breeds relative to zebu (Bos indicus) breeds. An analysis of cattle market prices found that buyers have preferences for specific breeds for specific purposes and that though in general price differences due to breed are small, in some cases buyers pay significantly different prices for certain breeds consistent with their preferences. The best hopes for increased utilization of breeds at risk such as Muturu is likely in other areas of West Africa, for example in southeast Nigeria, where the Muturu is better suited to the farming systems and there is a large market for this breed to provide incentives.