The world’s meat production is expected to double by 2050, according to a United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization report issued last week. The State of Food and Agriculture report also says that the livestock sector is one of the fastest growing parts of the agricultural economy.

To meet rising demand, global annual meat production is expected to expand from 228 million tons currently to 463 million tons by 2050, according to the report.

Investments, research and governance are required to ensure that the world's livestock sector contributes to poverty reduction, food security, environmental sustainability and human health, FAO says.

The report stresses that livestock is essential to the livelihoods of around one billion poor people. Livestock provides income, high-quality food, fuel, draught power, building material and fertilizer, thus contributing to food security and nutrition. For many small-scale farmers, livestock also provides an important safety net in times of need.

The agency also stressed the need for substantial investments and stronger institutions at global, regional, national and local levels, to ensure that continued growth of the livestock sector mitigates environmental and health concerns.

"The rapid transition of the livestock sector has been taking place in an institutional void," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf in the foreword of the report. "The issue of governance is central. Identifying and defining the appropriate role of government, in its broadest sense, is the cornerstone on which future development of the livestock sector must build."

Livestock contributes 40 percent of the global value of agricultural production and supports the livelihoods and food security of almost one billion people. Globally, livestock contributes 15 percent of total food energy and 25 percent of dietary protein. Products from livestock provide essential micronutrients that are not easily obtained from other plant food products.

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