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World livestock 2011: Livestock in food security

World livestock 2011

Edited by A. McLeod
Published by FAO
Website: www.earthprint.com
2011, 128pp, ISBN 978 9 25107 013 0 (Pb), US$35 or free to download

Livestock play a critical role in achieving food security, by providing nutritious food to consumers and income to producers. But to sustainably feed a growing population, the resources used to rear livestock - including water, fossil fuel and grain - must be used efficiently. In addition to outlining the general role livestock play in human nutrition, the supply of food, and access to food, World livestock 2011 examines specifically the ways in which livestock contribute to the food security of pastoralists, smallscale mixed farmers and urban dwellers in Mongolia, Nepal and China.

Communities dependent on livestock, those who practice mixed farming on a small scale, and consumers in cities, each have specific demands on farm animals and their products and distinct food security concerns. "The global land area available for grazing is close to its biological limit for production under the prevailing climatic and soil fertility conditions, putting pastoralist systems under pressure," the authors state. But due to the importance of pastoralist production, they call for investment to secure access to markets, enabling livestock owners to gain greater value from their produce. Issues of disease risk, environmental pollution and animal welfare in intensive livestock units that supply urban areas are also outlined.

The book ends by discussing the expected future demand for livestock products and ways this demand can be met with increasingly limited resources. Water shortages, the spread or emergence of disease and market volatility are also assessed. "The pressures on natural resources may force the price of livestock source foods to rise, making them less accessible to the poor, but improving efficiency and reducing waste in livestock production will make important contributions to ensuring the supply and accessibility of livestock source food," the authors write.

"Today's livestock sector must be prepared to respond with a shift in focus and investment towards building greater resilience into food systems, meaning an increased ability to deal with change and recover from shocks," the authors conclude. "All share a need for food systems to be sustainable and resilient. Each region and type of community will have an influence in shaping livestock's contribution to the food security of the future."

Date published: November 2011


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