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The State of Food and Agriculture, 2009 – Livestock in the Balance

by ruchita last modified Jan 22, 2014 07:20 PM

Mar 30, 2010

Livestock contributes 40 percent of the global value of agricultural output and supports the livelihoods and food security of almost a billion people. The livestock sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the agricultural economy, driven by income growth and supported by technological and structural change.

The growth and transformation of the sector offers opportunities for agricultural development, poverty reduction and food security gains, but the rapid pace of change risks marginalizing small-holders. In many developing countries, livestock rearing is a multi-functional activity. In addition to providing food and income, livestock are valuable assets, are used as collateral for credit and are a safety net during times of crises.

These and other issues facing the livestock sector are the central theme in the 2009 State of Food and Agriculture Report brought out by FAO. The State of Food and Agriculture last provided an overview of the livestock sector in 1982. Since then, the sector has developed and changed rapidly. The release of the State of Food and Agriculture in 2009, with livestock as the central theme, is therefore extremely timely. The report provides an overview of the sector, major trends related to production and consumption, underlying economic and social drivers, technological changes, impact on poverty and food security, and on the environment and human health. The report argues that the livestock sector could contribute more positively to society’s goals, but significant policy and institutional changes are required.

The key messages conveyed by the report are that the livestock sector is one of the most dynamic parts of the agricultural economy. The sector has expanded rapidly in recent decades, but decisive action is required if the sector is to satisfy this growth in ways that support society’s goals for poverty reduction and food security, environmental sustainability and improved human health. The livestock sector makes important contributions to food security and poverty reduction. It could however do more with judicious policy and institutional reform and significant public and private investment aimed at enhancing the ability of small-holders to benefit from the increasing opportunities provided, protecting the poorest households for whom livestock rearing is a crucial safety net, developing and facilitating access to animal health services, and enacting broader rural development policies to ease the transition of some livestock keepers out of the system. Further, the report advocates that the governance of the livestock sector should be strengthened to ensure that its development is environmentally sustainable.    

Contributed by - SA PPLPP Coordination Team