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Small producers are big opportunities for a healthy, safe and sustainable global livestock sector

Spotlight from ILRI news -

Slide 01

Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), gave a keynote presentation at the International Federation for Animal Health–Europe conference Healthy Animals, Healthy Food, a Healthy Future, held in Brussels on 11 Jun 2015.

Smith had four key messages:

  • Demand for animal source foods is increasing rapidly—almost all the increase is in developing countries
  • Despite this, food and nutritional challenges remain
  • Small producers dominate the food economy in the developing world and can respond to the demand pull and do so in environmentally sustainable and healthy ways
  • New markets for European agriculture and agri-food industry are emerging

The challenge, Smith said, is feeding the world sustainably by the time the global human population stabilizes about 2050, by which time 60% more food than is produced now will be needed, 75% of which must come from the same amount of land. In addition, the higher production should be achieved while reducing poverty and addressing environmental, social and health concerns. And all this greater food will have to be produced with temperatures likely to be 2−4 degrees warmer than today’s.

All of which are tall orders.

Global demand for animal-source foods—meat, milk and eggs—is rising fastest, particularly in the world’s emerging economies.

Slide 04

This rising demand for meat, milk and eggs is due largely to rising populations as well as incomes and urbanization in developing countries. Take a look.

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Gains in meat consumption in developing countries are outpacing those of developed.

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The nutritional divides among the world’s seven billion people today are dramatic.

Slide 10

And while we have done much in recent years to reduce food insecurity, much still remains to be done.

Slide 11

While much of the above is common knowledge among development experts, what is less commonly understood is the central importance of the world’s small-scale food producers in developing countries, who are feeding most of the developing world’s people.

Slide 12

Jimmy Smith argued that the rising demand for livestock commodities in developing economies will be met—the only question is how. He presented three plausible scenarios.

Slide 13

Developing sustainable animal food systems—Scenario #3—is a must for several reasons, he said.

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Just one of those reasons is the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

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As to why the European animal health sector should pay attention to developing-world livestock production, Smith presented some eyebrow-raising stats.

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Whether you are in the business of processing animal-source foods, or veterinary pharmaceuticals, or animal genetics or feeds, the developing world is ‘where it’s at’.

View a short (2:34-minute) filmed interview of Jimmy Smith at the IFAH conference:
Livestock sector development—Jimmy Smith interview at IFAH-Europe 2015 conference, produced by Nik Wood.

View Smith’s full slide presentation: Food security and animal production: What does the future hold?,
with Dieter Schillinger, Delia Grace, Tim Robinson and Shirley Tarawali at the IFAH Europe Sustainability Conference, Brussels, 11 June 2015.

View a Pinterest board of all of Jimmy Smith’s recent slide presentations:
Livestock Slide Presentations by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith, 2011–present.


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