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For smallholder farmers, a way out of poverty

Livestock contribute to the farming operations of more than 800 million poor smallholders. Rural households can improve their livelihoods by raising a wide variety of animals: cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, camels, llamas, alpacas, horses, donkeys, rabbits and even bees.

It is estimated that the demand for livestock products will more than double over the next 20 years, due to urbanization, economic growth and a change in consumption patterns in developing countries. Livestock is one of the fastest growing agricultural subsectors in developing countries, accounting for about 30 per cent of agricultural GDP.

Yet 85 per cent of livestock keepers around the world remain poor. Smallholder farmers will need to become more productive, efficient and environmentally sustainable to meet the requirements of growing market demand, largely from urban areas. These requirements relate to food quality, food safety and consistency of supply.

A game changer for rural families

Small and large livestock can make a huge difference to women and men's incomes while strengthening household food and nutrition security and building resilience.

Livestock provide a wide range of nutritious, protein-rich foodstuffs, such as eggs, meat, milk, and honey, which can be processed into a variety of products. This contributes to the diversification of diets and generates income. They are a source of leather, pelts, and fibres such as wool, mohair and cashmere. Manure is used as fertilizer for crops and as fuel for cooking. It can be composted or used for the production of methane in biogas digesters. Finally, livestock provide draught power for crop cultivation, and transportation for people and goods to market.

Poor rural families with no access to financial services often use livestock as a form of asset management, investing in animals when they have extra money, and selling them when they need cash or other necessities. This strengthens the resilience of those families in the face of economic and climate shocks, enabling them to plan for the future.

Maximizing livestock’s potential

IFAD supports small farmers in making the most of their livestock by protecting animal health, boosting productivity and sustainability, and helping to link farmers to profitable markets.

IFAD-funded projects involve technology transfer, training, credit for restocking, animal health services delivery, feed and breed improvement, and best husbandry practices. Through our investments, smallholder producers and pastoralists gain added value from their livestock.

Over the years, IFAD has developed a wide range of processes and tools to improve the design and implementation of our livestock projects. We work closely with governments and partners to scale up successful livestock interventions so that we can reach larger numbers of smallholders and improve production systems at the farm level.

Spotlight

Assets for life: Small, but innovative, investments in water infrastructures, transform livelihoods in Mozambique

Mapai is one of the driest districts of Mozambique, with an arid and semi-arid tropical climate where water for consumption, cattle and agriculture is the major challenge for the people living there.

Projects

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Integral Strengthening Programme for the Camelid Value Chain in the Bolivian High Plateau (Pro-Camélidos)
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United Republic of Tanzania

Agricultural Sector Development Programme - Livestock: Support for Pastoral and Agro-Pastoral Development
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Pakistan

Livestock and Access to Markets Project
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Lebanon and IFAD partner to boost smallholder dairy production

August 2019 - NEWS

About 6,080 resource-poor Lebanese rural households and Syrian refugees will benefit from a new US$12 million project that aims to increase the income of smallholder dairy producers and processors, as well as to increase employment opportunities for young Lebanese in communities affected by the Syrian crisis and young Syrian refugees.

Strengthened partnership with Sudan and IFAD to focus on future of rural transformation

July 2018 - NEWS
udan’s economic future may rest in the hands of its smallholder farmers. Two thirds of the country’s population (36.2 million people) live in rural areas and agriculture provides essential employment for 70-80 percent of the labour force.

IFAD and Guatemala’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock discuss inclusive rural transformation at regional event

July 2018 - NEWS
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAGA), hosted the second edition of the Dialogues for Inclusive Rural Transformation in Guatemala event last week.

Grant Results Sheet: Innovative beef valuechain development schemes in Southern Africa

December 2018
The IFAD-funded SWAZI BEEF project set out to increase the quality of livestock and meat products and to diversify farmers’ incomes in the sugar-cane-producing areas of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) through targeted support to farmers and other value chain actors (livestock producers, butchers/meat processors, financial institutions and input providers). 

Toolkit: Engaging with pastoralists – a holistic development approach

June 2018
Pastoralism is a way of life based on territorial mobility, adopted in response to the challenges faced by human communities living in harsh or difficult environments.

How to do note: Engaging with pastoralists – a holistic development approach

June 2018
This How To Do Note first outlines the problems developers need to be aware of in pastoral development.