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FAO and private sector talk about livestock issues

The livestock sector is the fastest growing agricultural sub-sector after aquaculture. In fact, the livestock sector provides societies with much more than meat, milk and eggs, fibres and leather as it also contributes to economic growth, food security and poverty alleviation. However, despite all the societal and economic benefits it provides, the sector faces a number of challenges such as threats to the environment related to greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, hazards to public and animal health and welfare, and smallholder farmer marginalization at the hands of rapidly expanding industrialised livestock production systems.


Leveraging the many positive contributions delivered by the livestock sector while at same time minimizing the challenges encountered requires collaboration between FAO and all relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, as well as with other intergovernmental and civil society organizations. This rapprochement needs to be an open, transparent and forward-looking interaction grounded on a solid, rigorous corporate strategy. A coherent corporate approach to private sector engagement can pave the road to a fruitful relationship in the future, not only in livestock but also in other areas of agriculture.


In view of the above, and as a follow-up to a previous (2009) meeting, the Animal Production and Health Division (AGA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held an event titled "Putting livestock back on the international development agenda: consultation on livestock sector issues between FAO’s animal production and health division and agribusiness representatives" from 14 to 15 October 2010 at FAO headquarters in Rome.


The collaboration between AGA and several private sector organizations like the International Dairy Federation (IDF), the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF), the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) and others may serve to capitalize on lessons learned and best practices that can be drawn from these exciting ventures. While it is relevant to urgently and swiftly deal with the most immediate challenges threatening the livestock sector in general, it is equally important to commence the diligent and coordinated work needed to place the livestock sector on a sustainability development path. This goal, as ambitious as it may be, hinges on the fundamental premise of better governance and more inclusive development pathways.