Livestock Sector Development For Poverty Reduction: An Economic And Policy Perspective. Livestock’s Many Virtues

An estimated 2.6 billion people in the developing world have to make a living on less than $2 a day; of these people, about 1.4 billion are extremely poor, surviving on less than $1.25 a day each. Poverty is intimately associated with undernutrition; FAO estimates that globally about 925 million humans were undernourished in 2010. Poverty and hunger have significant negative externalities affecting non-poor segments of society; thus, as well as ethical concerns, economic considerations and enlightened self-interest should also put poverty reduction high on the global agenda.

To achieve rapid advances in poverty reduction, interventions need to be well targeted so they spur economic growth to which the poor contribute and from which they benefit. Nearly three-quarters of the extremely poor – about 1 billion people – live in rural areas and, despite growing urbanization, more than half of the “dollar-poor” will reside in rural areas until about 2035. Most rural households depend on agriculture as part of their livelihoods, and about 90 percent of the world’s extremely poor are small-scale farmers. 

Agricultural productivity gains and/or diversification into high-value agricultural products – leading to increased income through increased value of output per area of land and, more important, per unit of labour input – are an essential means of raising rural incomes and improving food security. Because a large share of the rural poor keep livestock, because livestock can make important contributions to sustainable rural development, and because the demand for livestock products is growing rapidly in developing countries, diversification into livestock, and increasing livestock productivity should form part of a strategy for poverty reduction and agricultural productivity growth. 

This book reviews major aspects of the livestock-poverty interface with the objective of identifying the conditions under which livestock can be an effective tool for poverty reduction; the interventions that allow livestock’s poverty reduction potential to be unlocked, and the contexts in which they do so; and ways of facilitating sustainable implementation of these interventions.

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