Economic Opportunity

Driving inclusive growth

Photo Credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet

Globally, livestock contribute about 40% of agricultural GDP and provide livelihoods and incomes for at least 1.3 billion people worldwide. However, despite its economic importance, livestock receive just a small fraction of official development assistance to all of agriculture. With more investment, livestock production can be the economic driver for millions throughout the developing world.

Contributions to the economy

Livestock play an important and fast-growing economic role in the global agricultural economy, contributing 40% of agricultural GDP globally and 5% of total GDP. In spite of this, only 2.5% of total agricultural official development assistance goes to livestock.

Read More

Livestock investments

There is significant public under-investment in livestock compared to its importance for economies.

Read More

Market and trade opportunities

The demand for livestock products is projected to double in the next 40 years, offering huge opportunities for more than a billion people who rely on the livestock industry for their livelihoods.

Read More

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.

Read More

Employment and incomes

Globally, the livestock sector is as an important source of jobs, providing livelihoods and incomes for at least 1.3 billion people. Livestock keeping is one of very few livelihood options in challenging settings such as drylands: Nearly 200 million pastoralists produce food and generate incomes where crop farming is limited, risky or impossible.

Read More

Livestock and properity - impact evidence on the ways investments in livestock systems can positively impact people, communities, and the environment:

Several of the most important outcomes associated with livestock keeping and production are economic and they contribute directly to the livelihoods of even the most resource poor people and communities. Not only does the sale of animals, milk, and eggs generate income, including for women, but the assets which the animals represent in themselves provide important insurance and savings mechanisms in settings where people have no access to alternative sources for those services. This function is embodied in the very noun we use for such animals: live-stock.

Here we present evidence on the positive impacts of a range of livestock-related interventions on economic opportunities. These include:

Livestock transfers

Livestock transfer programs provide live animals to rural households, to keep and multiply, over time, leading to multiple positive impacts. The benefits range from increased incomes to more diversified diets in livestock-keeping households. In addition, such households subjectively self-report improved welfare. In addition, complementary training in husbandry, etc, to the livestock asset transfers have been demonstrated to make a significant positive difference to the welfare of recipients in terms of milk productivity and income. 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 enhance household income diversity, asset accumulation and fewer households below the poverty threshold.

Market-based livestock livelihoods

The studies identified a number of livestock investment strategies that lead to positive market-based livelihood gains. For example, investing in cattle fattening enterprises for markets can provide an income opportunity for rural households. In other settings, investing in goat value chains in remote areas can lead to significant household income increases for poor people. Dairy farmer hubs, a form of collective action among farmers that allows them to link closely to milk markets and service providers, are shown conclusively to increase both milk productivity and farm net returns. At a more macro level, investment in livestock policy analysis and advocacy can have large and consequential positive impacts on rural and urban poor. In the case of Kenya, dairy policy advocacy efforts lead to industry wide gains of over $30M per year. Generally, coordinated, well-managed dairy development programs have positive employment and income gains for poor producers and consumers.

Productivity and resilience

Farm level livestock related interventions had impacts on productivity and resilience which in turn translate to improved economic outcomes. Climate change risk coping strategies related to livestock keeping have been found to also increase productivity and household welfare. Innovative index-based livestock insurance schemes in dryland areas improve the resilience of pastoralists to climate shocks. Also in extensive areas, improved grazing management and fodder availability interventions can increase rural household income in poor areas. Even where smallholder dairy systems are long-established, well targeted investments in capacity and market development can have positive impacts on rural livelihoods, and work in Bangladesh showed that smallholder poultry projects can enhance income among in the poorest households.

Download a report with this and other impact evidence showing why livestock matter