Last week in Florham Park, New Jersey, Zoetis, the largest animal health provider in the world (it was spun off from Pfizer Animal Health last year), hosted a conference on Mega trends in livestock production: The state of animal agriculture 2025–2050.
A keynote presentation at this mega trends conference was given by Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which works to relieve poverty and hunger, and to improve human and environmental health, through livestock science in developing countries.
Smith spoke on the Evolution of animal production in emerging markets: China, Russia, India, Brazil, Africa, summarizing what he had to say in the slide above.
Chief among the global livestock trends Smith cited was the skyrocketing demand for, and production of, poultry, pigs and ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats) in many regions of the developing world. This unprecedented rising demand for livestock commodities in developing countries, particularly in the emerging economies, Smith said, will continue over the coming five decades. And this underlies the big changes we are already seeing in where and how most livestock commodities are produced, sold and consumed.
Some of the greatest changes are occurring in the smallholder sector, where highly diverse livestock systems — from nomadic herding to agro-pastoral systems to mixed small-scale farming — continue to be practiced today. What determines the type of livestock production people practice are such factors as the kind of agro-ecological region they inhabit, the amount of infrastructure they have access to and their levels of poverty or wealth.
Smith zeroed in on the hundreds of millions of farmers in developing countries who raise animals as well as grow crops. These mixed crop-and-livestock farmers are not only the backbone of developing-world food production today, he said, but also offer the biggest opportunities for feeding the world’s growing population over the coming decades, and doing so sustainably.
See, for example:
> Smart investments in sustainable food production: Revisiting mixed crop-livestock systems, Science, Feb 2010
> Drivers of change in crop–livestock systems and their potential impacts on agro-ecosystems services and human wellbeing to 2030: SLP-CGIAR-ILRI study report, 2012
> The roles of livestock in developing countries, Animal, Mar 2013
> Beyond milk, meat and eggs: Role of livestock in food and nutrition security, Animal Frontiers, Oct 2013
Even less understood or appreciated as yet, Smith said, is that these ubiquitous small-scale farming systems of the developing world are also key to tackling some of the biggest global issues today, including the following.
(1) Preventing epidemics of human diseases by stopping disease outbreaks in animals
> Zoonosis emergence linked to agricultural intensification and environmental change, PNAS, May 2013
> Current drivers and future directions of global livestock disease dynamics, PNAS, Dec 2013
> World livestock 2013: Changing disease landscapes, FAO report, 2013
(2) Closing the large yield gaps in developing-country food production by making smallholder livestock more productive
> Feeding the world in 2050: Trade‐offs, synergies and tough choices for the livestock sector, Tropical Grasslands, Dec 2013
> Identifying investment opportunities for ruminant livestock feeding in developing countries, World Bank report, Nov 2012
(3) Reducing levels of the greenhouse gases warming our planet by making small-scale livestock production more efficient
> Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities FAO report, Nov 2013
> Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems, PNAS, Dec 2013
Smith underscored that livestock ‘wins’ for developing-country populations can be ‘win-wins’ for everyone. He gave an example in the animal health sector, where returns on investments by both the private and public sectors could be ‘vastly increased’ with more judicious targeting of the different livestock markets and institutions in developing countries. Describing possible ‘livestock future’ scenarios in the emerging economies of China, Russia, India, Brazil and Africa to his animal health audience, Smith argued that vaccines and other technological advances of broad use will be ‘game changers’ in the coming decades.
Below is a selection of some of the first of the 55 slides Smith presented last week. Smith began by noting that major drivers of change — rising human populations, per capita GDP, urbanization — as well as past trends and global assessments such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment give us an understanding of plausible future trends.
View or download the whole presentation of 55 slides here:
Evolution of animal production in emerging markets: China, Russia, India, Brazil, Africa
Keynote by Jimmy Smith at a Zoetis conference on ‘Mega trends in livestock production: The state of animal agriculture 2025–2050’, 11−13 Mar 2014.