Agriculture / Animal Production / Climate Change / Directorate / Environment / Event / Film and Video / Intensification / Livestock / Livestock Systems / LIVESTOCKCRP / Policy / USA

Harnessing livestock innovations for greater economic good


Shirley Tarawali, ILRI assistant director general, speaking at GASL 2019

Shirley Tarawali, assistant director general of ILRI, speaking at GASL 2019 (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

The rising global demand for livestock-derived foods offers a wealth of new opportunities for transforming the livestock sector into one that is fair as well as sustainable, safe as well as profitable, humane as well as efficient and one that contributes significantly to livelihoods and economic growth.

This key message was delivered by Shirley Tarawali, assistant director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), at the ongoing 9th Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) Multi-Stakeholder Partnership (MSP) meeting at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

These ‘as yet underexplored and underfinanced opportunities,’ Tarawali said, ‘can lead to transforming this sector to one that meets food demand, contributes to development and mitigates harm.’ These opportunities include investing in technologies that grow livestock-based households’ incomes, offering tailored financial support to farmers and lowering the risk of investing in animal agriculture.

‘But taking advantage of the potential for the livestock sector to contribute to GDP requires deliberate, prioritized and targeted actions’ she added. These investment are needed at levels of time and money that are truly commensurate with the potential of this sector to enable taking to scale the many sustainable solutions offered by livestock production. Tarawali shared five key messages from a background paper on the issues, opportunities and risks in ‘livestock and economic growth’. She summarized key messages from the paper on how to ensure that investments in livestock development are taken to scale in sustainable ways.

Recognizing and supporting sustainable livestock’s contribution to multiple development ambitions (and avoiding unintended consequences)

  • By investing in technologies, business and infrastructure that support new income streams for household, niche products, and product differentiation.
  • Protecting assets through insurance, incentives and vaccination.
  • Being deliberate to ensure equity between men, women, young, old, rich, poor, large and small.

Harnessing diversity and growth for a sustainable livestock sector

  • Prioritizing and targeting smart investment.
  • Avoiding ‘blanket policies’, be cognizant of long- and short- term synergies and trade-offs of livestock sector policies.
  • Supporting a transition from livestock dependent livelihoods.

Supporting sustainable livestock enterprises through financing, business and trade innovations

  • Offering tailored financing options and de-risking new investment.

Investing and use the latest technologies at a faster pace ‘innovation expedited’

  • Addressing the huge disparity between where demand is growing fastest and where the most advanced livestock sector technologies are availed and deployed.

Supporting sustainable intensification – moving towards more efficient, less environmentally harmful production with good health outcomes while supporting many livelihoods.

Undertaking awareness and engagement actions to ensure livestock roles in livelihoods and economic growth are included in livestock-specific and wider development policies/agendas.

  • Promote dialogue, education and engagement within and outside of the sector needs to be strengthened.

Tarawali’s presentation featured this four-minute video, produced by ILRI, on how livestock innovations are contributing to economic development and transformed lives across the world.


The 9th GASL MSP meeting is taking place 9–13 Sept 2019 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The more than 200 participants from more than 20 countries in this year’s meeting are discussing the four domains ‘shaping the future of livestock’— Food and nutrition security, livelihoods and economic growth, animal health and welfare, and climate change and natural resource use.

Read the background paper on livestock and economic growth.

Read more about the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.

Follow the Kansas State University Research and Extension news blog for more information and updates from the 9th GASL MSP meeting.

Watch the whole of this session, starting at 12:43 minutes here (click on ‘Watch this video on YouTube)

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