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Livestock production systems

Farming of crops and livestock cannot be considered independently of one another nor should they be considered in isolation. Established links between livestock numbers, cultivation levels and human populations suggest that greater attention should be paid to quantifying and mapping these associations. There are huge differences in the ways in which livestock are kept in different places and what their roles are. Understanding, classifying and mapping global agricultural production systems is a necessity if we are to be able to help livestock keepers take advantage of the rising demand for animal-source foods; help livestock keepers adapt to a changing and more volatile climate; minimize the risk of disease emergence and spread, not only among livestock but also in people; and to help livestock keepers mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.


Livestock production systems in the developing world were mapped by Thornton et al. (2002), based on a classification scheme developed by Seré and Steinfeld (1996). FAO and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are collaborating to further this approach – working towards global coverage with better quality and higher spatial resolution input data. This has now resulted in Version 5 of the global livestock production systems map. The forthcoming FAO-ILRI publication (Robinson et al., 2011) provides a reference to this, describes its evolution and the data used to create it. But further developments in systems classification and mapping are still needed, particularly for those areas where changes are occurring most rapidly. This information is central to evaluating the implications that increasing livestock production and intensifying systems may have for livelihoods, poverty alleviation, animal diseases, public health and environmental outcomes. FAO and ILRI continue to work jointly towards improving these maps.


Method Image GIS
ILRI/FAO production systems V.5 (2011) photo icon web icon
ILRI production systems V.1 (2003) photo icon