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Livestock

For smallholder farmers, a way out of poverty

Livestock contribute to the farming operations of more than 800 million poor smallholders. Rural households can improve their livelihoods by raising a wide variety of animals: cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, camels, llamas, alpacas, horses, donkeys, rabbits and even bees.

It is estimated that the demand for livestock products will more than double over the next 20 years, due to urbanization, economic growth and a change in consumption patterns in developing countries. Livestock is one of the fastest growing agricultural subsectors in developing countries, accounting for about 30 per cent of agricultural GDP.

About 78 per cent of the world’s poor people live in rural areas and rely largely on agricultural work to put food on their plates and make a living. Smallholder farmers will need to become more productive, efficient and environmentally sustainable to meet the requirements of growing market demand, largely from urban areas. These requirements relate to food quality, food safety and consistency of supply.

A game changer for rural families

Small and large livestock can make a huge difference to women and men's incomes while strengthening household food and nutrition security and building resilience.

Livestock provide a wide range of nutritious, protein-rich foodstuffs, such as eggs, meat, milk, and honey, which can be processed into a variety of products. This contributes to the diversification of diets and generates income. They are a source of leather, pelts, and fibres such as wool, mohair and cashmere. Manure is used as fertilizer for crops and as fuel for cooking. It can be composted or used for the production of methane in biogas digesters. Finally, livestock provide draught power for crop cultivation, and transportation for people and goods to market.

Poor rural families with no access to financial services often use livestock as a form of asset management, investing in animals when they have extra money, and selling them when they need cash or other necessities. This strengthens the resilience of those families in the face of economic and climate shocks, enabling them to plan for the future.

Maximizing livestock’s potential

IFAD supports small farmers in making the most of their livestock by protecting animal health, boosting productivity and sustainability, and helping to link farmers to profitable markets.

IFAD-funded projects involve technology transfer, training, credit for restocking, animal health services delivery, feed and breed improvement, and best husbandry practices. Through our investments, smallholder producers and pastoralists gain added value from their livestock.

Over the years, IFAD has developed a wide range of processes and tools to improve the design and implementation of our livestock projects. We work closely with governments and partners to scale up successful livestock interventions so that we can reach larger numbers of smallholders and improve production systems at the farm level.

Spotlight

Spotlight

The latest food security and nutrition report paints a grim picture. Three IFAD experts react to the shocking figures

The latest SOFI report shows that rather than moving towards zero hunger, evermore people are hungry. On the back of these disheartening results, three IFAD experts give their reactions to the report.

Projects

Projects

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Integral Strengthening Programme for the Camelid Value Chain in the Bolivian High Plateau (Pro-Camélidos)

United Republic of Tanzania

Agricultural Sector Development Programme - Livestock: Support for Pastoral and Agro-Pastoral Development

Stories and news

Stories and news

The latest food security and nutrition report paints a grim picture. Three IFAD experts react to the shocking figures

July 2022 - BLOG
The latest SOFI report shows that rather than moving towards zero hunger, evermore people are hungry. On the back of these disheartening results, three IFAD experts give their reactions to the report.

Take a 360° tour of a small, thriving pig farm in the green hills of Lao PDR

June 2022 - STORY
In the tiny village of Manh, nestled in the green uplands of Lao, agricultural production groups are coming together to develop their businesses and learn new techniques. For Boun Tham, groups like these made all the difference for his pig farm.

Insects to Feed the World – Episode 32

May 2022 - PODCAST
This month's episode focuses on the use of insects to feed the world – both as food for humans and feed for livestock.

From biotechnologist to artisanal cheesemaker

March 2022 - STORY
Ibtissèm’s career in the pharmaceutical industry was off to a strong start, but she put it on hold when her mother fell ill. Back in her hometown in central Tunisia, she needed a new way to support herself and her mother – and then she realized that her skills would serve her well in her town’s bustling dairy industry.

Livestock View more link

Related publications

Related publications

Research Series 84: Farmed animal production in tropical circular food systems

June 2022
In this review, the role of farmed animals in circular food systems in the tropics is presented in four case studies.

Policy brief: Low carbon and resilient livestock development in Kyrgyzstan

November 2021
Pastoral and agro-pastoral systems, if well managed, are the best-suited and adaptive form of agriculture for the majority of Kyrgyzstan’s land area that is too dry, cold, or mountainous for crop farming.

Following the thread of yak

November 2021
This is the first publication exclusively focusing on yak wool production and its commercialization, incorporating the socio-environmental narrative attached to High Asia region and its herders communities.