Delivering milk to a collection centre in Tanga, Tanzania.
Photo: ILRI


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The growing global demand for animal products also offers poor livestock keepers the opportunity to switch from the subsistence to the market economy. Our author gives an account of three approaches in the meat and dairy sector in Africa and Asia with their respective potentials and limitations – and also warns against possible negative effects.

An estimated one billion poor livestock keepers live in developing countries. About 600 million are found in South Asia, mostly in India. Sub-Saharan Africa has more than 300 million poor livestock keepers, mostly in East and West Africa, but also in the Southern and Central regions. Livestock keepers derive various benefits from their animals, starting with food (milk, meat, eggs) and services (draught). They also earn income when selling livestock or livestock products. Manure used as natural fertiliser is crucial for soil fertility management. Finally, livestock are used as savings and can be sold to get cash in case of an emergency, and in many setups, livestock also provide important social benefits.

Market orientation is low, with many livestock keepers operating at subsistence level with no or limited surplus to sell. On the other hand, demand for animal source foods is expected to increase annually by 2.8 per cent in Africa and 4.1 per cent in South Asia between 2007 and 2050, due to population growth, increased income and urbanisation, a phenomenon known as the Livestock Revolution.

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