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The state of food and agriculture 2009: Livestock in the balance

By FAO, Published by FAO. Website: www.earthprint.com/productfocus.php?id=FAO110188 2010, 176pp, ISBN 978 9 25106 215 9(Pb) US$75

Livestock support the livelihoods and food security of a billion people. But in many countries, the absence of strong governance and regulation, coupled with rapidly rising demand for meat and other livestock products, is increasing the risks of disease and the pressure on land, water and biodiversity. Tackling the links between livestock, food security and poverty reduction, climate change, and diseases, The state of food and agriculture 2009, FAO’s annual flagship publication, argues that while the livestock sector must continue to meet rising world demand, “it must do so in an environmentally sustainable way, while managing the incidence and consequences of animal diseases and providing opportunities for rural development, poverty reduction and food security.”

Growing international trade, inadequate access to veterinary services, and concentration of livestock near urban populations has increased the risk of animal disease outbreaks and the emergence of new animalrelated threats to human-health, such as H1N1 and SARS. “Meanwhile,” the report adds, “climate change is altering patterns of livestock disease incidence, as pathogens and the insects and other vectors that carry them enter new ecological zones”. Improving early warning systems for disease outbreaks by involving animal health workers, and strengthening national and international animal health and food safety systems are among the recommendations made.

To meet the challenges and constraints highlighted, this comprehensive publication calls for appropriate institutions, research, development interventions and governance that reflect the diversity within the sector and the multiple demands placed on it. “The issue of governance is central,” says Jacques Diouf, FAO director general in the foreword. “Identifying and defining the appropriate role of government, in its broadest sense, is the cornerstone on which future development of the livestock sector must build.”

Entrepreneurship in Livestock and Agriculture Edited by M.C. Sharma, Rupasi Tiwari and J.P. Sharma, CBS Pub, 2010, pbk, xvi, 484 p, tables, figs, ISBN : 81-239-1774-0, Rs. 395.00

“Provides comprehensive information on the basics of entrepreneurship, related concepts, communication acumen, interpersonal communication strategies, agribusiness ventures, WTO and IPR issues, banking and insurance facilities and various other aspects related to the promotion of livestock enterprises, especially in the rural areas. Based on the syllabus of newly formulated course for students of veterinary and agriculture sciences, it aims to serve as a textbook to the students and as a handbook to the professionals in the field of livestock and agriculture sciences, motivating them to set up their own economically viable enterprises, reducing the burden on the government as well. The book is also relevant for the policy planners, executors at field level, researchers, academicians and students, and entrepreneurs to provide them fresh thought on the avenues in the present era of shrinking landholding and increasing unemployment in rural areas and agribusiness and micro enterprise promotion.”

Supporting livelihoods and local livestock breeds – Guidelines for putting Livestock Keepers’ Rights into practice. LIFE Network, March 2010. Document available at http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/Rights, a concept born out of the recognition that livestock-keeping communities have played a crucial role in the development of most of the world’s local breeds and continue to be the custodians of these breeds; and livestock biodiversity, ecosystems and livestock-keeping communities are interdependent.

The concept was developed and refined in a series of consultations  that took place on three continents, with hundreds of livestock keepers from 20 countries over the last seven years. The outcome was a Declaration on Livestock Keepers’ Rights, presenting three principles and five rights that would enable and encourage livestock keeping communities and pastoral and small-scale livestock keepers to continue keeping their breeds and making a living from them. The Declaration also list legal frameworks backing Livestock Keepers’ Rights. These guidelines are long overdue. They are urgently needed to counteract the rapid loss of livestock breeds and to support rural livelihoods. Only if ecologically responsible, livestock keepers receive sufficient recognition and support will it be possible to conserve breeds, livelihoods and the environment in marginal areas. It is hoped that all those involved in livestock research and development will recognize and follow these guidelines to make Livestock Keepers’ Rights a reality.

Adding value to livestock diversity – Marketing to promote local breeds and improve livelihoods LPP, LIFE Network, IUCN–WISP and FAO. 2010. FAO Animal Production and Health Paper. No. 168. Rome. Document available at http://www.pastoralpeoples.org/

Many local livestock breeds and minor species are in decline and may  be lost because they cannot compete with high-yielding exotic breeds. Conserving these breeds is important: many have unique traits, such as hardiness and disease resistance, that are vital for future livestock production. One way to help ensure their survival may be to sell products from these breeds to high-value, specialist markets.

The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources acknowledges the importance of market access to the sustainable use of livestock diversity and calls for development of markets for products derived from local species and breeds, and for strengthening processes that add value to their products.

This publication describes eight examples of marketing of livestock  products (wool, cashmere, milk, meat and hides) from local breeds of Bactrian camels, dromedaries, goats and sheep in seven countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It shows how they have kept local breeds in use, while enabling the small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists who raise them to improve their livelihoods.

LPP, LIFE Network, IUCN–WISP and FAO. 2010. Adding value to  livestock diversity – Marketing to promote local breeds and improve livelihoods. FAO Animal Production and Health Paper 168. Rome.