At the 2010 Annual Program Meeting (APM) of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), held in April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, several hundred participants debated and discussed the challenges facing the global livestock industry. ILRI and its partners are investigating ways to promote smallholder participation in livestock markets, more sustainable ways for livestock keepers to use natural resources, and ways to improve livestock pathways out of poverty.
Some of the presentations made during the meeting on the theme of 'Livestock: the Good, the Bad and the Gaps' were captured on film. We share three of those below.
The first film is a presentation by ILRI agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero on the important place of livestock for smallholder farmers in developing economies. Herrero highlights the many benefits livestock bring to the rural poor and argues that the rapidly expanding sector will need to be better managed and to reduce the environmental risks it poses if it is to continue to be productive. Herrero argues for an integrated assessment of the effects of the global livestock industry on various agro-ecosystems important to the poor.
In the second film, ILRI veterinary and food safety researcher Delia Grace discusses the human health risks associated with livestock keeping. Grace notes that zoonotic diseases (those transmitted between animals and people) and emerging infectious diseases (such as bird flu) are two of the well-known risks associated with livestock. But she says that animals provide a means of regulating diseases because they can serve as sentinels that lets communities and public health officials know of disease outbreaks before the diseases can affect humans. She makes the case for more research to address the many common misconceptions that exist about livestock and human health.
In the third film, Narayan Hedge, of India's BAIF Development Research Foundation, highlights the important role livestock play in providing a livelihood for nearly 700 million people in India. He makes an appeal for better livestock technologies, better infrastructure, and more efficient management of the industry so that more smallholder farmers can use livestock to escape poverty.