IFPRI, ILRI leaders: Sustainable small-scale livestock farming is essential to meeting the 21st-century’s protein needs

While the potential harms of raising livestock and consuming meat, milk, and eggs are frequently discussed in the Western media these days, their benefits for much the world’s population, especially in developing countries, get less attention. In low-income countries, animals remain essential for nutrition, livelihoods and crop farming. The good news is that there’s a lot that can be done to promote a sustainable, broad-based and environmentally friendly livestock sector.

In a meeting at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit Sept. 25 in New York, thought leaders in food and agriculture discussed the future of meat and how it can contribute to sustainable development.

Dairy cow in central Malawi

A dairy cow looks out from her stall in a village in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

“Concerns about livestock—relating to animal welfare, human health, the environment and antimicrobial resistance—are becoming increasingly prominent,” said IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan. Considering the crucial role livestock plays for food security and nutrition, it’s increasingly important that organizations not neglect the perspective of people in the emerging and developing world, for whom livestock are not “simple food commodities,” Fan said, but rather “living animal assets” that remain essential sources of livelihoods.

Fan’s remarks were developed in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a CGIAR research center based in East Africa dedicated to animal agriculture research for the developing world.