The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), together with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other partners, organized a Regional Policy Forum in Bangkok on 16-17 Aug 2012. This forum discussed how increasing livestock production to meet rapidly growing demands in a socially equitable and ecologically sustainable manner has become a major challenge for the Asia-Pacific region. It also outlined elements of a response to the challenges.
The Asia-Pacific region has experienced a high growth rate in milk and meat consumption over the last two to three decades. ILRI’s strategic research work in the region includes work in pig and dairy value chains in Vietnam and India supported by the CGIAR research program on livestock and fish. The program aims to provide integrated solutions to the growing food demand and growing livestock response challenges facing the region. Jimmy Smith, the Director General of ILRI, together with ILRI scientists Steve Staal, Tom Randolph, Delia Grace and Purvi Mehta, participated at the forum.
In his keynote address, Jimmy Smith discussed how human health, livestock health and ecosystems are interdependent. Smith asserted that amidst the many challenges that the livestock sector as well as the broader agriculture sector is facing, it will be possible to feed the world, sustain the natural resource base, reduce absolute poverty and improve the health of people, animals and the planet.
During the forum, three thematic panel discussions were held on policy options to improve market participation and livelihood resilience of smallholder livestock producers, environmental considerations for Asian livestock and a spotlight on health risks at the animal-human-ecosystem interface.
Mehta, who helped host the meeting, noted that the forum brought together policy makers, implementers, developmental organizations and donors from over 10 Asian countries. She added that it was a rather unique livestock policy forum that both reviewed the key constraints in the region and offered some concrete suggestions on what needs to be done.