Given that the majority of the rural poor keep livestock and that
markets for livestock products are rapidly growing, supporting
smallholder livestock production and marketing can make a significant
contribution to the livelihoods of the poor and offers substantial scope
for expansion to alleviate poverty. This potential is far from being
realized, however, and there is much wider scope for the promotion of
livestock, especially among poor rural communities, by national and
international policy makers.
In seeking to identify target groups for pro-poor livestock development
policies, it must be recognised that livestock are themselves productive
capital assets and that market-oriented livestock production requires
some investment in physical and human capital. Thus, the main source of
income for the poorest, even in rural areas, is usually wage labour, and
it is mostly households above a certain asset threshold that rely
directly on primary agricultural production. However, while livestock
expansion has a direct impact on employment and incomes in farming, it
also has an indirect impact on employment in the labour intensive,
non-tradable, rural non-farm sector. These indirect benefits of
livestock development may outweigh its direct benefits but are rarely
Given that increased income from agriculture is effective in generating
employment in local nontradable goods and services, this paper makes a
case for combining poverty relief through direct support to smallholder
producers with poverty relief through employment creation. However, for
this combined strategy to be effective, rapid growth of livestock output
and market supply is needed to generate increasing cash incomes for
producers. Arguably this rapid growth is more PPLPI Research Report 2
likely to be achieved by targeting livestock development policies on the
'not so poor, yet still poor' smallholders, rather than on the
'poorest of the poor'.
PPLPI, FAO, Rome, Italy, 10 pp.
Pro-Poor Livestock Policies: Which Poor to Target?