Livestock Policies for Poverty Alleviation: Theory and Practical Evidence from Africa, Asia and Latin America


The paper argues that, given a functional macroeconomic and institutional framework, livestock policies would be pro-poor if they included: (i) policies 'establishing the basics for livestock production', including secure and adequate access to basic production inputs, such as land and water, as well as risk coping mechanisms for natural disasters and price shocks; (ii) policies 'kick-starting domestic livestock markets', such as a pro-poor functioning of the credit market, animal health and extension services delivery, and adequate access to output markets for smallholders; and (iii) policies 'supporting and expanding livestock markets', encompassing research for improving feeds and livestock breeds, food quality control and trade-supporting policies.

It is found that in the last twenty years domestic livestock production has largely not satisfied increased national meat/milk demand and that few countries have designed a comprehensive pro-poor strategy for the development of the livestock sector. Agricultural sector and livestock policies, which are surprisingly consistent across all geographical regions, tend in fact to decouple livestock production from poverty reduction and overemphasize policies 'kick-starting domestic livestock markets' and 'supporting and expanding livestock markets' vis-à-vis policies reducing vulnerability and providing secure access to basic production inputs. Yet, in several circumstances lack of secure access to land, feed and water might prevent the poor from positively reacting to input and output market policies. Current livestock policies are thus unbalanced, and governments should better target the causal links between livestock development and poverty reduction, taking into account the broader set of market and institutional imperfections preventing the resource poor from benefiting from the growing demand for livestock products. Only when the poor do have secure access to basic production inputs, in fact, will input and output market and trade-supporting policies contribute to take them out of low-wealth-low-growth vicious circles.

A three page executive summary is also available in addition to this paper.


PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, v+61 pp.

Published 1 January 2005