In summary, the performance of livestock systems is based on four fundamental interacting factors: the genetic potential of the animals being kept, their nutrition, their health, and the socio-economic environment, including the management capacity of the livestock keeper, the motivation for keeping livestock, the role of gender, market opportunities and services, and policies that shape related incentives.
Incremental improvements can be achieved through innovations in one of the four factors. Given the high degree of interaction between them, livestock development often requires a more integrated approach and stepwise changes in the production system, such as introducing genetically improved dairy animals while providing better nutrition and health care, as well as a market outlet for the increased milk produced.
More recently, these four fundamental production factors have been expanded in two ways. The first is to recognize as a fifth factor that performance of livestock systems is now threatened if the interaction with the environment is not addressed, both how the environment is affecting the livestock system or how the livestock system impacts the environment, both of which affect the sustainability of the system. The second extension, recognizes that the traditional ‘supply’ perspective needs to take account of the consumer demand side – how livestock systems can better serve food and nutritional security needs and contribute to livelihoods.
Drawing on this analysis, the program has identified 5 ‘flagship’ research areas to provide research-based solutions to drive the transition to sustainable, resilient livelihoods and diets for future generations. Three address productivity enhancing technology discovery and delivery strategies for animal health, animal genetics, and feeds and forages. One addresses integrative research on animal-source food systems and livestock-based livelihoods, and one addresses strategies to manage livestock interactions with the environment. Each also includes cross-cutting dimensions around gender, capacity development, communications, monitoring and evaluation and learning, and open access/open data.
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9. What are the most promising livestock research solutions or interventions we need to discover – or deliver – to provide more and better animal-source foods to the world’s poor? How do we achieve these?