Animals in natural interaction with soil, plants, and people in Asia

This article discusses the role of animals in small-scale crop/animal systems in Asia. It examines how the animals are generally multipurpose, rather than single or dual purpose, with security also being an important element. Farmers can be stimulated to produce more meat and milk when other forms of security such as banks are considered equally reliable. Multiculture is the predominant system of plant production in the region with leguminous crops complementing non-leguminous crops. This also has benefits for soils. Multiculture systems are labour intensive, but in a context in which labour is not a problem, labour-saving devices provide no solution. Animals in agroforestry are discussed in detail, with an emphasis placed on animals grazing under coconut and oil-palm plantations. Asian animal scientists should spend more time exploring the roles of multiculture and animals in agroforestry.