International Livestock Research Institute, PO Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya
On a global basis, livestock products - meat, milk, eggs and fibre - account for 40% of the value of total marketed agricultural product. Animal products provide essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals to help ensure nutritionally balanced diets. In developing countries, livestock traction and manure also contribute to food production through improved cultivation and soil fertility which increase crop yields. On average, the proportional contribution of livestock product to dietary calories and protein in developed countries is double that for developing countries. Demand for livestock products is fuelled by the population increase, income growth and urbanisation in developing countries. Therefore, over the past decade, consumption of livestock product has sharply increased in developing countries, while slightly decreasing in developed countries where consumption is already relatively high on average. Increased demand in developing countries increases income for producers, but also stresses the environment through pollution, soil erosion, overgrazing and deforestation. Research involving global partnerships of scientists and institutes can help ensure that the increased demands for livestock product in developing countries will be met in economically feasible and environmentally sustainable ways.
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