Smallholder Livestock Systems – Innovations for Sustainability

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A Policy Brief from the NGO Cluster of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock. September 2019

This Policy Brief has been produced by VSF International, Heifer International, The Donkey Sanctuary, Anthra, The LIFE Network and Kyeema Foundation (members of the NGO Cluster of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock – GASL). It was presented at the 9th MSP meeting in Kansas, on September 2019.


Policy brief ago 2019_ok webSmallholder farming systems and pastoralism have supported human civilisation for centuries. In these systems, livestock are critical assets with multiple roles: they provide food, fuel, fibre, medicine, draft power and transport, manure, social status, economic security and increased income and political power. They also hold cultural importance, adding distinctive value and variety to different societies.

The Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) is founded on the conviction that the livestock sector has a key role to play in achieving the SDGs. Within that, the NGO cluster recognises the enormous contribution of smallholder livestock systems and pastoralism to meet such targets, especially in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). These systems can efficiently respond to challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation and market access in an increasingly globalised economy through continuous innovation and adaptation. They are a key feature of rural areas, competitively producing the bulk of livestock products in LMICs.

The role of sustainability and innovation in smallholder and pastoral systems encompasses a number of wide-reaching subjects, therefore for the purpose of this paper the main focal domains are food and nutrition security (FNS), animal health and welfare, livelihood and economic growth, and environment and climate change.

This paper examines smallholder and pastoral systems, highlighting the role of sustainability and innovation. It also looks at how modern technologies such as mobile phones and scientific research such as on new immunisation methods can support sustainable development and why these systems should be valorised through more favourable policies.

Download the Policy Brief


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