17.11.2014

Sustainable intensification of livestock production can provide regular food and income for improved livelihoods. There are approximately 450 million hectares of native and introduced pastures in tropical LAC.

A major constraint to livestock production is the quantity and quality of forage production as a key feed source in ruminant systems. Overgrazing and a lack of suitable forage options that are better adapted to biotic (pests and diseases) and abiotic (edaphic and climatic) stress factors contribute to low productivity. Improper management (e.g., no fertiliser application and overgrazing) of pastures lead to soil nutrient depletion and pasture degradation, and limit livestock production. Improving pasture quality and productivity offers a readily available means of increasing food production and vitally needed protein production.

Production per animal unit in tropical areas of LAC is much less than in temperate regions. Increasing pasture productivity could help materially increase animal production. Easy access to high-quality forages and/or improved pasture management are crucial entry points for enhancing animal production and animal health, and it increases viability of genetic improvement of livestock.