Africa / Animal Production / Asia / Environment / ILRI

Industrialized livestock production to increase, despite social implications

Voice of America has published interviews of agricultural systems analyst Philip Thornton and director general Carlos Seré, both of the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), on the future of livestock production.

From the report:

‘. . . A British scientist has published a study Monday that says the 12,000 year-old relationship between humans and livestock is changing rapidly—but in developing countries livestock remains a vital part of life. The study by Professor Philip Thornton from the University of Edinburgh [and ILRI] says demand for livestock will nearly double in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by 2050. That’s because populations are on the rise, incomes are increasing, and cities are growing. He says people in developing countries who depend on livestock for their livelihood may benefit by the increased demand for meat. Thornton says, though, that the industrialization of livestock production also could be problematic for those same people.

‘”One of the dangers is that these poor livestock keepers would be marginalized and if they’re not able to participate in markets, then clearly they wouldn’t be in a position to benefit from the increase in demand,” said Thornton.

‘Total meat production tripled in the developing world between 1980 and 2002, from 45 to 134 million tons. In developed countries, on the other hand, the production and consumption of livestock has leveled out. . . .

‘Dr. Carlos Seré is Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute based in Nairobi. He says it’s important that questions of the environment don’t cloud the importance of meat consumption to developing countries. Livestock is a crucial source of income, he says, source of nutrients, and a major part of daily life.

‘”Poor people need livestock,” said Seré. “If we were to make it difficult to have livestock, these people would have no alternatives and in the end we would be creating a lot of social problems, for example, migration to other countries, etc. So we need to understand that there are environmental problems, but there are also huge opportunities and we need to really invest in tackling those.”

‘. . . Thornton’s report is part of a set of 21 papers published by Britain’s Royal Society.’

Read more at Voice of America, Industrialized livestock production to increase, despite social implications, 16 August 2010.

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