FAO.org

Home > In Action > Projects > Reducing Enteric Methane for improving food security and livelihoods > Background > The role of ruminants
Reducing Enteric Methane for improving food security and livelihoods

The role of ruminants in food security and livelihoods

The socio-economic importance of the ruminant sector: Ruminants are essential to the livelihoods of millions of farmers. Out of 729 million poor people that live in rural and marginal areas, about 430 million are estimated to be poor livestock farmers who for the most part rear ruminant animals. Livestock provide increased economic stability to the farm and household, acting as a cash buffer (small livestock) and as capital reserve (large animals). They also provide important components such as traction, manure for fuel and fertilizers, and fiber.

Role in food and nutrition security: Ruminants play a dominant role in food security. They supply 51 percent of all protein from the livestock sector; of which 67 and 33 percent is from milk and meat, respectively. For many populations, livestock is a primary source of nutrition, and not simply a source of calories.

Role in the utilization of marginal lands and waste: Ruminants are able to utilize forages, agro-industrial by-products and crop residues that would otherwise be wasted and convert them into valuable, high-quality products (milk, meat, wool).