Livestock program – the focus on growth trajectories?

Blog post

The complexity of the livestock sector in terms of its various commodities (meat, milk, eggs and other products), species (cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry), the associated agri-food systems and the ways they are changing at variable speeds, and the many other roles that different types of livestock play (traction, savings insurance, and social and cultural roles), presents a challenge in defining priorities for livestock research for development.

The program has chosen two major entry points (or trajectories) to help organize and prioritize its research for development. These were derived from a high-level consultation on livestock research and development.

  1. Rapid inclusive growth systems address the need to develop sustainable food systems that deliver key animal-source nutrients to the poor while facilitating a structural transition in the livestock sector of developing countries. This requires supporting sustainable intensification and developing efficient and effective food systems that protect the nutritional security of poor consumers and producers. A primary focus is on developing technologies and institutional innovations that increase productivity while mitigating environmental impacts, improve access to markets and deliver safe animal-source food to consumers. This has been the focus of the current Livestock and Fish CRP, namely supporting sustainable intensification within a value chain framework with appropriate productivity-enhancing technologies and institutional innovations that allow smallholders to upgrade their livestock activities.
  1. Fragile growth systems recognize that rapid, market-focused growth will not be the trajectory for all poor livestock keepers. In areas where productivity is severely limited by remoteness, harsh climates or environments, or by poor institutions, infrastructure and market access, much emphasis will be to enhance the important roles of livestock in the resilience of people and communities to variability in weather, markets or resource demands. This considers innovations needed to increase the resilience of livelihood systems that rely on livestock, including technologies that protect and enhance livestock assets such as livestock vaccination strategies appropriate for backyard or pastoralist systems, or institutional strategies to secure assets of the vulnerable such as index-based livestock insurance schemes. Providing options for managing the two-way interaction with the environment is often a central issue in this context, in terms of both adapting to climate change and other changes in the environment, and sustainable management of eco-services.

A third trajectory – high growth with externalities – happens where fast-changing livestock systems pursue productivity in ways that may also damage the environment and expose communities to public health risks. Research on these issues will be addressed through other CGIAR research programs.

The Program will translate these into research to address 1) the sustainable intensification of livestock-based systems and 2) enhancing resilience for livestock-based livelihoods

The program sees these trajectories as a ways to focus research on two specific sets of challenges—one more related to supporting inclusive sustainable intensification and addressing nutrition and poverty through increased production, supply and better targeting of research questions and solutions, and the other to enhancing the role of livestock in strengthening resilience, protecting livelihoods and improving nutrition.


3. What are the top issues that should drive research on the sustainable intensification of livestock-based systems?

4. What are the top issues that should drive research on enhanced resilience for livestock-based livelihoods?

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