Heading home at dusk in Mozambique

A boy returns home with his family herd at dusk in Lhate Village, Chokwe, Mozambique. Livestock farming offers unique features to support local livelihoods and economies in developing countries (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The year 2014 was declared the International Year of Family Farming. As the year comes to a close, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) last month launched a book, Deep Roots, that shines the spotlight on the important role that family farming plays in sustainable food production and conservation of natural resources.

FAO was the implementing agency of the International Year of Family Farming. Over the course of the year, FAO championed intense policy dialogue on family farming involving governments, networks of family farmers, civil society organizations, research institutions, academia and the private sector.

Deep Roots reflects the momentum generated by these discussions and captures diverse experiences, perspectives and insights on family farming from various authors and institutions from around the world.

Scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) contributed a chapter that highlights the role of smallholder livestock farming in supporting local livelihoods and economies in developing countries.

“Smallholder family farms still dominate livestock production in most developing countries, especially with ruminant animals such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep and goats,” the authors note.

“These animals can remain productive by subsisting largely on low-cost roughages, stovers and other crop by-products produced or gathered locally, providing smallholders with a comparative advantage over larger livestock producers.”

The book was launched in Manila, Philippines on 27 November 2014 at the global closing event of the International Year of Family Farming.

Access the electronic version of the book, Deep Roots

Access the chapter, Livestock farming boosts local economies in developing countries, by ILRI’s Steve Staal, Susan MacMillan, Jacqueline Escarcha and Delia Grace