Livestock contribute to global food security - FAO report

Globally, more than a billion people depend on livestock
calendar icon 15 July 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Diverse foods derived from livestock production systems, including grazing and pastoralist systems, and from the hunting of wild animals, provide high-quality proteins, important fatty acids and various vitamins and minerals – contributing to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health, according to a recent FAO report.

Livestock species are adapted to a wide range of environments, including areas that are unsuitable for crop production. Globally, more than a billion people depend on livestock value chains for their livelihoods. Small-scale livestock farmers and pastoralists make up a large proportion of livestock producers. Well integrated livestock production increases the resilience of small-scale farming systems. Livestock also provide other important ecosystem services in landscape management, provide energy and help to improve soil fertility. Rangeland or grassland ecosystems occupy some 40 percent of the world’s terrestrial area. Livestock keepers raise grazing animals to transform grassland vegetation into food.

Challenges related to high resource utilization and pollution, food–feed competition, greenhouse-gas emissions, antimicrobial resistance and animal welfare as well as zoonotic and food-borne diseases, accessibility and affordability need to be solved if agrifood systems are to become more sustainable.

FAO’s Committee on Agriculture requested a comprehensive, science- and evidence-based global assessment of the contribution of livestock to food security, sustainable food systems, nutrition and healthy diets, considering environmental, economic and social sustainability. The assessment consists of four component documents. The first component document provides a holistic analysis of the contribution of terrestrial animal source food to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health outcomes over the course of people’s lives.

The report can be read in its entirety online.

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