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The value of donkeys to livelihood provision in northern Ghana

Maggs, H. C., Ainslie, A. ORCID: and Bennett, R. M. (2023) The value of donkeys to livelihood provision in northern Ghana. PLoS ONE, 18 (2). e0274337. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274337


Increased demand for the supply of donkey hides for use in the Traditional Chinese Medicine e’jiao, is leading to a re-appraisal of donkeys’ contributions to livelihoods across the world. This research aimed to understand the utilitarian value donkeys provide to poor small holder farmers, especially women, in their efforts to make a living in two rural communities in northern Ghana. Uniquely, children and donkey butchers were interviewed for the first time about their donkeys. A qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken of data disaggregated by sex, age and donkey-ownership. The majority of protocols were repeated during a second visit, ensuring comparative data between one wet, and one dry season. Donkeys are more important in people’s lives than had previously been recognised and are highly valued by their owners for their help in reducing drudgery and the multi-functional services they offer. Hiring out donkeys to generate income is a secondary role for people who own donkeys, especially women. However, for financial and cultural reasons the way donkeys are kept results in the loss of a certain percentage of the animals to the donkey meat market, as well as the global hides trade. Increasing demand for donkey meat, coupled with increasing demand for donkeys for farming, is leading to donkey price inflation and theft of donkeys. This is putting pressure on the donkey population of neighbouring Burkina Faso and pricing resource-poor non-donkey owners out of the market. E’jiao has put the spotlight on the value of dead donkeys for the first time, especially to governments and middlemen. This study shows that the value of live donkeys to poor farming households is substantial. It attempts to understand and document this value thoroughly, should the majority of donkeys in West Africa be rounded up and slaughtered for the value of their meat and skin instead.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:110849
Publisher:Public Library of Science


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