TagCloud from the International Fund for Agricultural Research (image credit: IFAD).
An Asia and Pacific newsletter published by the International Fund for Agricultural Research (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations that works to eradicate poverty and hunger in developing countries, has published a new edition, on the topic of livestock. IFAD projects supporting poultry mini-hatcheries in Bangladesh, biogas in China, native poultry breeds in India, microfinance in Mongolia, dairy cows in Pakistan, mohair production in Tajikistan, and cattle value chains in Viet Nam are described.
Livestock contribute 40 per cent of the global value of agricultural output, and support the livelihoods and food security of almost a billion people according to the 2009 report of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)—The State of Food and Agriculture: Livestock in the Balance. It is one of the fastest growing sectors of the agricultural economy. The growth and transformation of the sector offer opportunities for agricultural development, poverty reduction and improved food security.
‘According to the IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011, livestock are a valuable risk-mitigating and risk-management asset for poor families. They often serve as collateral for credit, a buffer against shocks and a safety net in times of crisis. Livestock can be sold when families need to cope with increased prices of food and other expenditures, and reduced incomes. Animal products, such as eggs and milk, can be produced, processed and sold throughout the year without seasonal restrictions.
‘In addition to being an important source of food energy and dietary protein, vitamins and micronutrients, livestock also play an important role in the environment. They consume waste products from crop and food production, help control insects and weeds, produce manure for fertilizing and conditioning fields, and provide draught power for ploughing and transport. Well managed livestock result in lower greenhouse gas emissions and impact on natural vegetative cover of grasslands, pastures and meadows. However, livestock are vulnerable to risks and shocks related to climate, environmental degradation, water scarcity and diseases.
‘Rural women play an important part in livestock management. However, both women and men face different livelihood opportunities and constraints in managing livestock. These constraints include: poor access to markets, goods, services and technical information; drought and disease; competing resource uses; policies that favour larger-scale producers or external markets; and weak institutions.
‘According to the IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011, livestock production in developing countries has increased rapidly over the past 30 years. There has been substantial growth in the production of meat, eggs and milk. This has resulted from increased numbers of animals and increased yields, in Asia between 3 and 4 per cent per year. Today, production growth has been made possible by cheap inputs (including grains for feeds), technological change and gains in scale efficiency. This has resulted in lower prices for livestock products and stimulated rapidly growing demand among urban consumers.
To meet the growing demand for livestock products, the livestock sector requires appropriate institutions, research and technological innovations, development interventions and governance that reflect the diversity within the sector and the multiple demands placed upon it.
‘This newsletter provides a few interesting examples of how livestock is being managed in IFAD-supported projects and programmes in the Asia and the Pacific Region. . . .’
Read the whole article at Making a Difference in Asia and the Pacific, newsletter of the International Fund for Agricultural Research (IFAD), issue 38, Jul-Aug 2011.