Livestock Theme Month
Livestock production and animal-source food consumption are key components in achieving the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) objectives — which include sustainable, agriculture-led economic growth, strengthened resilience among people and systems, and a well-nourished population. Evidence shows that the livestock sector boosts agriculture gross domestic product (GDP) by an average of 30% in low- and middle-income countries. Rural households are particularly dependent on livestock, with 60% to 80% of households owning livestock to support their livelihoods, and can serve as a savings mechanism. And we know that households, particularly in vulnerable areas, must have access to diverse, nutritious foods. Evidence shows that only 18% of children receive adequately diverse diets in low- and middle-income countries. Animal-source foods, such as milk and eggs, have essential nutrients that play a pivotal role in providing much-needed nutrients for growth and development early in life. Finally, livestock are also a critical asset for households in areas of recurrent crisis, where we’re targeting our efforts to strengthen resilience and help families emerge from poverty, even in the face of shocks and stresses, including climate disasters.
Yet, many livestock systems are not functioning efficiently and food safety and hygiene can be an issue. The sector contributes approximately 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year, although much of that is produced in developed countries. While USAID is not ignoring the livestock sector’s impact on climate change, it is important to remember that the existing evidence indicates that promoting nutrition and food security with sustainable food systems using research for development along with climate-smart approaches can improve efficiency and reduce emission intensities. Feed the Future’s investments in a food systems approach, which includes sustainable livestock production, will drive economic growth, improve nutrition and build resilience.