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The FAO Expert Consultation on Strategies for Sustainable Animal Agriculture in Developing Countries was held at the FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 10 to 14 December 1990.

Animal agriculture is a complex, multi-component, interactive process that is dependant on land, human resources and capital investment. Throughout the developing world it is practised in many different forms, in different environments and with differing degrees of intensity and biological efficiency. As a result any meaningful discussion of the subject must draw on a broad spectrum of the biological and earth sciences as well as the social, economic and political dimensions that bear so heavily on the advancement of animal agriculture. There is a growing consensus among politicians, planners and scientists alike that livestock production in the third world is not developing as it should, or at a sufficient pace to meet the high quality protein needs of a rapidly expanding human population. The sobering reality is, despite the many development projects implemented over the years by national, bilateral and multinational agencies and often substantial capital investment, there has been little or no change in the efficiency of animal production in the developing world. Livestock numbers have increased substantially in many countries and while the growth in output is welcome, it does not necessarily equate with sustainable productive growth. On the contrary it can, as it has done in the drought prone arid regions, lead to a lowering of productivity and degradation of the rangelands.

The purpose of the Expert Consultation was to discuss and formulate specific criteria and questions relating to the planning and implementation of sustainable livestock production programmes in the developing world. There is increasing concern regarding the conservation of the natural resource base and protection of the global environment and FAO attaches highest priority to the sustainable development of plant and animal agriculture. This Expert Consultation is one of a number of initiatives being undertaken by FAO to ensure the sustainability of it's agricultural development programme. The discussion and recommendations arising from this Expert Consultation have been used to help to focus and guide global, regional and national policies and action programmes on the sustainable development of agriculture and have provided an important contribution to the FAO/Government of the Netherlands International Conference on Agriculture and the Environment held in the hague, 15–19 April, 1991.

The Consultation consisted of three days of plenary sessions and two days of workshops and was structured so that it would address the following main areas of concern:

A total of forty persons participated in the meetings including twenty one invited participants, of whom seven came from developing countries and seven were staff members of international development agencies: EEC, ICARDA, IDRC, IEMVT, ILCA, ITVM and the World Bank. FAO staff members from AGA, AGL, AGP, AGR, AGS and DDC attended the sessions and took part in the workshops.

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