ILRI study published today in Science special issue on food security

A paper written by several centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems, is published in the current issue (12 February 2010: Vol. 327. no. 5967, pp. 822–825) of Science magazine. The paper argues that the world's small-scale mixed crop-and-livestock farmers are the farmers feeding most of the world's poor today, are the farmers likely to feed most of the world's growing poor populations tomorrow, and are the farmers most neglected by current investments and policies worldwide. Lead author Mario Herrero, an agricultural systems analyst at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), says that with the right investments and policy support, the 'relatively extensive' mixed crop-livestock farming systems – located in most tropical developing regions of the world between intensively farmed fertile highlands and semi-arid low rangelands – could be the future breadbaskets of the developing world. The abstract of the paper follows. Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems M. Herrero P. K. Thornton, A. M. Notenbaert, S. Wood, S. Msangi, H. A. Freeman, D. Bossio, J. Dixon, M. Peters, J. van de Steeg, J. Lynam, P. Parthasarathy Rao, S. Macmillan, B. Gerard, J. McDermott, C. Seré, M. Rosegrant Farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems produce about half of the world’s food. In small holdings around the world, livestock are reared mostly on grass, browse, and nonfood biomass from maize, millet, rice and sorghum crops, and in their turn supply manure and traction for future crops. Animals act as insurance against hard times and supply farmers with a source of regular income from sales of milk, eggs and other products. Thus, faced with population growth and climate change, small-holder farmers should be the first target for policies to intensify production by carefully managed inputs of fertilizer, water and feed to minimize waste and environmental impact, supported by improved access to markets, new varieties and technologies. Read the full text

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