About this Research Topic
In developing countries, urbanization and associated demographic changes are posing unprecedented challenges related to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Livestock and crop systems in cities in Africa and Asia, where urbanization is occurring most quickly, will come to face significant adjustment pressures, since poverty will increasingly become urbanized, demand for urban food will grow and cities will exert greater influence on peri-urban and rural livelihoods and environments.
In developing countries, the contribution of Livestock Production Systems (LPSs) to the food security of the poor and under-nourished groups is well documented. Acquisition of livestock is widely recognized as a pathway out of poverty, a major income generating activity, a financial instrument, and a means of income diversification. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in many developing countries would therefore depend greatly on the ability of developing countries to build more sustainable and resilient crop and LPS that foster food security to meet the needs of the increasing population pressure.
Nevertheless, urbanization and the expansion of the geographic extent of cities and other related environmental challenges have substantially changed the landscape and the complexity of livestock production and added further challenges to LPSs. On the one hand, the supply of LPSs will increasingly be affected by competition for natural resources, competition between food and feed and by the need to operate in a carbon-constrained economy. Moreover, intensive livestock production has been developing and expanding closer to urban centers, creating several problems including increase in land and water pollution to unacceptable levels and effects on the health of both humans and animals. On the other, urbanization has a considerable impact on patterns and on demand for livestock source food (LSF). Urbanization often stimulates demand for LSF since it involves improvements in infrastructure that allows perishable goods to be traded more widely, and changes in food consumption patterns and habits. Thus, a shift from a predominantly vegetable-based diet to one that includes a greater amount LSF has been seen over the last few decades in many developing countries, resulting in an enormously increasing demand for LSF. Accordingly, there has been increasing uncertainties about how LPSs might evolve to meet the increased demand for LSF, and what the impacts will be on food production and urban food security.
From a policy-making perspective, it is surprisingly that LPSs in developing countries have so far been seen by policymakers and planners as merely playing a supporting role to food security. Particularly, the impacts and implications of urbanization on LPSs have received spare attention within urban planning and food security strategies. This is neglecting the above-mentioned contributions of LPSs to food security as well as the fact that the livestock sector contributes significantly to agricultural gross domestic product and employment. From a scholarly literature perspective, a critical look at existing studies on urbanization and agricultural systems in developing countries shows that research related to LPSs and how they evolve under urbanization dynamics has so far received little attention. Existing studies focus chiefly on “crop” production systems whereas research on “livestock” remains comparatively scant. Moreover, the results of a recent systematic literature review, carried out by researchers from the Department of Economics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, show that few studies have looked at urban spaces and processes of urbanization in relation to LPSs. Specially, less attention is paid to urban or peri-urban areas even as contextually relevant to LPSs or related food security issues. Food security is predominantly constructed as an issue of rural spaces. In addition, when urban contexts are discussed, they often appear peripherally such as developments of market demands, in which the issue of food security continues to be a concern for the rural ‘production site’.
This topic aims at bringing areas related to livestock, urban planning, agricultural systems and food security in developing countries to analyze, discuss and define research priorities for building more sustainable LPSs in developing countries. In particular, the following aspects are prioritized:
- Identifying and conceptualizing the emerging challenges for LPSs.
- The interface between LPSs, resource use (land, animals, plants and humans) and urban food security.
- Good livestock management practices and trends in animal health, food safety and animal welfare.
- Urban livestock systems as a potential hazard to public health and the role of urbanization in the emergence of zoonotic pathogens.
- Recycling of excess nutrients from animal wastes for crop production in environmental-friendly land-based animal production systems.
- Processes, actions, policies that need to be changed or implemented to build sustainable livestock production in developing countries.
We would like to acknowledge Adebayo Isaiah Ogunniyi, International Food Policy Research Institute, has acted as coordinator and have contributed to the preparation of the proposal for this Research Topic.
Keywords: Livestock Urbanization Resources Food-security Public-Health Animal-production-systems Policy
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