Smallholders and livelihoods:
Smallholders are significant suppliers of livestock products globally, including more than 40% of milk, 70% of lamb, 50% of beef, 60% of pork and 50% of poultry. This is an important source of income, jobs and sustenance for nearly three-quarters of a billion people engaged in smallholder agriculture.
Given the importance of smallholders in supplying developing countries with livestock products, increased productivity and production of smallholders is essential to meet the growing demand for these products. This will require policy and infrastructure support to help smallholders access critical inputs and services (e.g., animal breeds and feeds and veterinary services).
Livestock asset transfer programs that provide live animals to rural households, to keep and multiply, over time have multiple positive impacts. The well-documented impacts include improved milk productivity, increased incomes, more diversified diets, and subjective self-reporting of improved welfare. Due to the insurance functions mentioned, livestock asset transfers can increase household resilience, and reduce the chance of falling back into poverty, and generally lead to asset accumulation and fewer households below the poverty threshold.
Approaches are also needed to help small and medium farmers participate in livestock product markets in ways that allow them to comply with increasingly stringent market standards, such as via innovative business-oriented collective action or contractual approaches to gain from economies of scale and joint capacity development.
Many poor households rely on livestock assets for insurance and savings and so tend to keep surplus livestock, which may have negative effects on the environment. Policies should provide alternative insurance/financing options such as a weather-based insurance index and reliable savings plans to allow livestock keepers to manage their animals with a more market-driven orientation.
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