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Urban Livestock Production: “to be or not to be” – Expert Group on Urban Animals Is Looking for the Answer

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Dudgeon via Flickr

A boy carries a young goat (rather quickly) through the Russell Market in Bangalore.

Photo by: Geoffrey Dudgeon via Flickr

Population growth poses many risks, but it also creates a lot of opportunities, and urban agriculture is one of them. Growing urban population with increasing incomes creates demand for a more diversified diet with a substantial fraction of animal products.  Proximity to the local markets makes urban livestock production particularly attractive, especially if we are talking about perishable goods such as, for instance, fresh dairy products.

It is obvious that urban & peri-urban agriculture cannot guarantee the food needs of large cities; however, it can be a reliable food supply source as well as consistent source of income for certain groups of urban dwellers. In its turn, these conditions can only be reached if urban livestock production, as well as urban and peri-urban agriculture in general, becomes a viable business rather than a subsistence option or a survival strategy as it is predominantly today.

Building profitable businesses, developing economies of scale and educating farmers about enrepreneurship requires policy interventions. But how to build a good policy for such an unusual business as, let’s say, a goat farm in a densely populated city? Is it possible to ensure that this enterprise produces safe food, does not harm environment, brings good money both to owners and to workers, and does not make the entire neighborhood a dirty place where no one wants to live or to go for a walk?

Providing state-of-the-art recommendations for such a policy is what the expert group on Urban Animals is about. More precisely, this expert group analyses benefits and risks of keeping livestock in urban and peri-urban settings, identifies knowledge gaps and provides policy recommendations.

The expert group “Urban Animals: balancing good and bad” is planning its kick-off seminar for December – date to be fixed soon. The seminar will give an introduction to the economic and social benefits of keeping animals in towns or cities in low income countries as well to the environmental and public health downsides of this practice.  Also, a well-defined policy brief developed by the group will be presented and opened for discussion and consultation.

The seminar will be held in Stockholm or Uppsala with Swedish experts and stakeholders as well as international experts from FAO and ILRI. Detailed information about the seminar is to come soon.

The anthology on Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture for Food Security in Low-income Countries