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Press Release 01/55


London/Rome, 24 September - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Kingdom have agreed on a major livestock initiative for the poor in developing countries, FAO said in a statement issued today. The goal of the initiative is to contribute to poverty reduction through equitable, safe and clean livestock farming.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) will grant 9 million sterling (US$13 million) to support the 'Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Facility' within FAO's Animal Production and Health Division and regional initiatives over a period of six years. The project memorandum will be signed tomorrow (25 September) in London.

Livestock ownership currently supports and sustains the livelihoods of an estimated 675 million rural poor, FAO said. An estimated 70 percent of the poor are women for whom animal production is one of the most important assets and sources of income. In addition, livestock production is important to create job opportunities.

Population growth, increasing urbanization and rising incomes are predicted to double the demand for livestock and livestock products in the developing countries over the next 20 years. It is therefore expected that livestock production will move from temperate and dry areas to warmer, more humid areas where animal diseases are more easily spread. The number of large-scale industrial livestock producers close to the cities will grow to satisfy urban demand for cheap animal protein. This could severely damage the enviroment and pose public-health risks. Pressure on grazing land will increase.

Livestock production is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector and it is predicted that by 2020, livestock will produce more than half of the total global agricultural output in value terms.

The projected growth in demand for animal products offers a unique opportunity for the rural poor since they already have a significant stake in livestock production. It presents one of the few rapidly growing markets that poor people can join without a need for substantial resources or training, FAO said.

"In many countries, however, policy-makers too often favour urban industrial livestock production over small-scale rural production. In these cases, the livestock sector is heavily distorted in favour of large-scale producers. The opportunity of achieving pro-poor impact through political and institutional reform is high," said Louise Fresco, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Agriculture Department.

"In addition, development projects in the livestock sector have, generally, not been very successful. Undoubtedly inappropriate technologies and the failure to deliver services to poor farmers have contributed greatly to the lack of success of many livestock development projects," she added.

There is currently no recognized international platform or network dedicated to discussion and negotiation of livestock issues, FAO said.

The FAO/DFID initiative will formulate and promote policy and institutional reforms in support of poor livestock producers and their families: to improve competitiveness of poor livestock farmers; to lower market access barriers for small animal producers and to reduce exposure of farmers to risks such as drought and animal diseases.

The FAO/DFID project will advise national governments, civil society, the private sector, bilateral and multilateral development agencies that influence national and international policy making. It will create awareness amongst opinion makers, especially in the developed countries, concerning the potential and issues associated with livestock and the poor.

"The FAO/DFID initiative will encourage policy reforms that break down the financial, technical, social and cultural barriers that restrict the access of poorer people to the potential offered by livestock," Ms. Fresco said. The policy reforms will focus on increasing competitiveness and on reducing exposure of farmers to risks such as drought and animal diseases.


For more information contact the FAO Media Relations Officer Erwin Northoff, Tel: 0039-06-5705 2232/3105, e-mail: or at DFID Ken de Souza, Rural Livelihoods Department, Tel: 00 44 -20 79170804.

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