Pastoralist Knowledge Hub

FAO's Efforts in Promoting Sustainable Management of Camelids

31/05/2024 -

Camelids, including camels, llamas, and alpacas, are an important source of protein and fibre for communities throughout the world. They provide food security and nutrition through milk and meat, transportation and labor for communities in arid regions, and serve as a cultural and traditional symbol for many communities. Additionally, camels are known for their resilience and ability to thrive in harsh environments, making them valuable assets for communities facing climate variability and limited water resources.

Recognizing the importance of these animals, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working in various ways to support their production and management. One example of FAO's work with camelids is in Bolivia, where they have been working with the government and local communities to promote sustainable and equitable management of alpaca fibre[1]. Alpaca wool is highly prized for its softness, warmth, and durability, but the industry faces many challenges, including low prices, poor quality control, and lack of market access. FAO has helped to establish a certification system for alpaca fibre, which guarantees its origin and quality and provides higher prices for farmers. They have also supported the development of a processing plant and training for women's groups to improve their skills in spinning and weaving.

FAO's work with camelids extends beyond Bolivia and includes regions such as the Near East, North Africa, and Latin America. In the Near East and North Africa, FAO focuses on enhancing camel productivity and resilience, supporting camel health and disease control, and promoting value chain development for camel products. In Latin America, FAO works on harnessing the potential of llamas and alpacas for agriculture and food security, emphasizing sustainable practices and market access for their products.

In addition to improving livelihoods, FAO's work with camelids has important environmental benefits. Camelids are adapted to living in fragile ecosystems, such as the high Andes, where they play an important role in maintaining biodiversity. By promoting sustainable management of these animals, FAO is helping to conserve these ecosystems and protect the livelihoods of those who depend on them. Overall, FAO's work on camelids is an important part of its broader efforts to promote sustainable livestock management and rural development.

In 2016, the Plurinational State of Bolivia sent a request for the establishment of 2024 as the International Year of Camelids. Below are some of the opportunities and benefits from the ongoing year contributing towards the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and FAO Strategic Objectives[2],[3]:

  1. Supporting the conservation and characterization of local breeds;
  2. Promoting the sustainable management of camelids to improve camelids' health and productivity by developing better feeding and management practices;
  3. Supporting the development of value chains for camelid products, such as wool, meat, and milk, as well as supporting the development of local markets and the promotion of traditional knowledge and practices, and;
  4. Supporting the development of sustainable camelid-based livelihoods. 

To learn more about the activities of the ongoing year and how to get involved, please visit the website - International Year of Camelids (IYC) 2024