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  • Irene Hoffmann
    Animal Production Service
    FAO HQ, Room C-592
    Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
    Rome 00153, Italy.
    Tel: +39 06 570 52796
  • irene.hoffmann@fao.org


Guidance of the Livestock Sector – Issues and Options


The livestock sector has been undergoing change at an unprecedented pace over the past few decades. The booming demand for animal-source food in the world’s most rapidly growing economies has led to large increases in livestock production, supported by major technological changes. This surging demand has been mostly met by commercial livestock production and associated food chains. At the same time, millions of rural people still keep livestock in traditional production systems, where they support livelihoods and household food and nutrition security. The rapid transition of the livestock sector has been taking place in an institutional void. The speed of change has often significantly outpaced the capacity of governments and societies to provide the necessary policy and regulatory framework to ensure an appropriate balance between the provision of private and public goods.


As laid out by SOFA 2009: Livestock in the balance and Livestock in a Changing Landscape, the challenges posed by the livestock sector cannot be addressed by a single set of actions and by individual actors alone. They require integrated efforts of a wide range of stakeholders. Such efforts must also be holistic and equitable, taking account of social and economic dimensions. Through such broad-based constructive engagement and focused attention, the livestock sector should be able to meet the multiple, often competing objectives of society. In its 22nd Session on 16 - 19 June 2010 in Rome, FAO’s Committee on Agriculture will review how to address such balancing of objectives. The discussion paper COAG/2010/5 – Guidance of the Livestock Sector – Issues and Options is intended to support the Committee’s decision-making.


FAO’s Strategic Objective B “Increased sustainable livestock production” will give emphasis to building and supporting an agenda of action for the livestock sector, shared by governments, international institutions, multilateral and bilateral donors, private sector, farmer organizations and other civil society stakeholders. This agenda will include the necessary steps towards a livestock sector characterized by: better governance; a systematic focus on the problems and issues identified; a more inclusive development process; levels of investment commensurate with the importance of the sector and the challenges it faces; and enhanced international cooperation and investment in research and development.


Increased sustainable livestock production is dependent on up-to-date, relevant, comprehensive and reliable, gender-sensitive information to underpin the rural development process and to ensure that it is supported by effective policies. To support such processes, FAO is setting up a web-based “Gateway to governance in the livestock sector”.