The livestock industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the agricultural economy, contributing approximately 40 percent of the global value of agricultural production. Most of this growth is in response to global changes such as a growing and increasingly urbanised human population, accompanied by an increase in meat consumption.
This trend is also reflected in Southern Africa where livestock production contributes up to 40 percent of agriculture GDP in some countries. Of increasing importance is the contribution of livestock to household income, food, and nutrition security. For most of the smallholder farmers and pastoralists, livestock is essential for diversifying income sources, investment and risk management, providing manure/fertilizer, draught power, and transportation as well as for social and customary functions.
Lately, however, livestock production in the region has been severely affected by evolving climatic patterns that have resulted in an upsurge in livestock diseases, rangeland degradation, and limited access to water.
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