Advocacy / Agriculture / Communications / Farming Systems / Livelihoods / Livestock / Opinion Piece / Pro-Poor Livestock

ILRI at the Committee on World Food Security


Today, the International Livestock Research Institute’s (ILRI) Iain Wright, deputy director general for research and development–Integrated Sciences, gave a short intervention at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) held at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) headquarters in Rome. He spoke on the importance of smallholder farmers. Text of his intervention follows:

Mr. Chair, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Of behalf of CGIAR centres, it is my honour to take the floor. I am from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI for short), one of 15 CGIAR centres working for a food-secure future.

The world’s smallholder farmers in developing countries are the world’s ‘food heroes’. They feed most of the world’s people today: they produce 55% of our cereals, 50% of our beef, 72% of our lamb and 41% of our milk.

With a growing demand for meat, milk and eggs across the developing world, there are enormous opportunities to help those smallholders who raise livestock to significantly and sustainably increase their production to meet this demand.

With access to the right technologies, and support from well-designed policies and infrastructure, these small-scale food producers will gain wider access to critical inputs and services, such as better animal breeds, feeds and veterinary services, and to better markets.

In Ethiopia, to give just one example, a market-led approach helped more than 110,000 dairy households to produce more milk by adopting improved technologies and management practices. Over just 5 years of the project, the number of households selling milk nearly doubled and the volume of milk traded more than tripled.

The developing world’s farmers and herders raise the camels, buffaloes, cows, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry that are the mainstay of one billion livelihoods across the world. The milk, meat and eggs their animals produce provide hundreds of millions of families not only with livelihoods but also with regular incomes, nutritious foods, jobs for youth and business start-ups for women. In short, these animals are major and enduring instruments for achieving better lives.

Livestock are a major driver of economic growth in virtually all low- and middle-income countries. Globally, livestock accounts for, on average, 40% of agricultural GDP, and in developing countries this figure is growing.

But the livestock sector continues to receive a pittance—less than 3%—of official development assistance to agriculture.

That is a shocking deficit that will have to be closed if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and have any hope of achieving a more just and sustainable world.

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