Livestock and Food Security: The Relevance of Animal Science to the Hungry Poor
AbstractLivestock play a major role in basic food-security, which in turn is the first principle of national security and international security. Food-insecure populations emigrate and undermine precarious States. Even at the level of more luxurious food-security expressed in UN ideals, livestock products are critical. Outside single product industrial farms, livestock provide multiple outputs, including: high-quality protein; income; draught and traction power; nutrient recycling; various edible and non-edible by-products, and they reproduce themselves. Children and reproductive-age women, whose diets are deficient in amino acids not readily accessible from plant foods or in micronutrients, benefit significantly from even small amounts of animal protein, which globally makes up perhaps 28 percent of protein intake. In Asia, livestock production has increased markedly in recent decades, particularly from intensive systems in China as part of its planned food-security – an approach that provides lessons for smaller food-insecure countries. Future animal scientists and development planners will learn to balance such innovations with those of the West and move beyond routine European breeds and production systems to consider the livestock 3Rs – ruminants, rabbits and rodents that thrive on waste products and lands not suited to other forms of food production. They will make such contributions to food security as: animal production within city limits; periurban farms; industrial and home-based aquaculture; home-based rodent/rabbit hutches; contract-growers supplying cities; insect-protein units; huge capital-intensive operations with integrated market chains; non-agricultural foods, and more. For now, extensive ruminant grazing systems and small mixed farms seem likely to remain the most efficient production systems, although the majority of animal products that can be delivered to cities, where most of the world will live, will probably be from specialized intensive production, particularly of poultry and pigs. As animal scientists we do well to reflect on our ethical and technical roles, especially with respect to food security.
Falvey, J, Livestock and Food Security: The Relevance of Animal Science to the Hungry Poor, Keynote Plenary to AAAP Conference, Bangkok, 2012