Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems

Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems (ICLS)


There are already over 1 billion (about 15% of the human population) people hungry and living in poverty, and 75% of them as well as other less poor but vulnerable people live in rural areas and depend on farming for their livelihoods, with the majority relying on small scale crop-livestock systems, including those that are integrated with long haul pastoral systems. Demand for livestock food products – red and white meat, dairy products, eggs -- are expected to grow significantly, thus offering opportunities for income and employment generation for the small-scale producers in crop-livestock systems as well as from the specialised producers, both small and large intensive and extensive systems, of livestock products. The need for introduction, adaptation and implementation of good farming practices with associated enabling environments and to address environmental and health issues linked to agriculture has never been greater due to the shear scale of livestock related agriculture that will be required to maintain local and international food security and livelihoods in sustainable ways.


©FAO/Munir Uz Zaman

Intensification of crop and livestock production, in smallholder crop-livestock systems as well as in other intensive or extensive systems, is essential to mitigate human suffering and providing time for needed social and economic changes. Harnessing the potential of well-integrated crop and livestock systems at various levels of scale (on-farm and area wide), and that often have agro-forestry and forestry inputs, is one of the powerful entry points to address such needs, issues and opportunities. The integration of crop and livestock production systems increases the diversity, along with environmental sustainability, of both sectors. At the same time it provides opportunities for increasing overall production and economics of farming. This would reduce the preference for specialized livestock production systems, in view of their problems with environmental and economic sustainability.

©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri