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The State of Food and Agriculture 2009

Livestock in the Balance

image of The State of Food and Agriculture 2009

This edition of The State of Food and Agriculture is published at a crucial point in time. The world is going through a financial turbulence that has led to a serious economic setback. But this must not mask the global food crisis that has shaken the international agricultural economy and proven the fragility of the global agricultural system. This report discusses the most critical challenges and opportunities facing the sector. It highlights systemic risks and failures resulting from a process of growth and transformation that has outpaced the capacity and willingness of governments and societies to control and regulate. It tries to identify issues that require solutions at various levels to allow livestock sector to meet society’s expectations in the future in terms of provision of both private and public goods. The issue of governance is central. 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.

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Change in the livestock sector

Rapid growth and technological innovation have led to profound structural changes in the livestock sector, including: a move from smallholder mixed farms towards large-scale specialized industrial production systems; a shift in the geographic locus of demand and supply to the developing world; and an increasing emphasis on global sourcing and marketing. These changes have implications for the ability of the livestock sector to expand production sustainably in ways that promote food security, poverty reduction and public health. This chapter reviews trends in and the outlook for consumption, production and trade of livestock products and accompanying technological and structural changes in the sector. It discusses the structure and diversity of the livestock sector and factors that will shape the sector over the coming decades. Challenges facing efforts to improve livelihoods, alleviate poverty and food insecurity, reduce pressures on natural resources and manage human and animal diseases are highlighted.

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