This paper assesses the viability of small scale, specialised livestock farming led by the local government, to alleviate rural household poverty. In so doing, it reflects upon the prospect of niche livestock farming in an age where, ironically, demand for meat is ever-rising. It also highlights the ambiguous role that local government plays in poverty alleviation. The specific case study is on the Jinuo ethnic minority in Xishuangbanna autonomous region, located in Southwestern province of Yunnan, China. It is argued that thus far the Jinuo minority have had modest success in rearing indigenous pigs due to a confluence of factors. Nonetheless, a growing market will likely result in some degree of intensification in the production process that goes beyond the means of the upland farmers but will be eagerly exploited by the local government. If the pig rearing scheme is to remain an effective income diversification strategy in select marginalised mountainous communities, the march towards commodification, expansion and intensification, as well as the unchecked ambition of the local government, have to be carefully moderated.
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