Of the 345 million people in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), 30.6% are severely food insecure, 8% malnourished and 50% live with less than US $1 per day, respectively. Livelihood, food and nutrition security have, therefore, become key priorities for the SADC region in response to these complex challenges. Given that 70% of the SADC population directly rely on agriculture for food, nutrition and income, sustained agricultural productivity may play an important role in achieving livelihood, food and nutrition security in the region. Being an important part of the agri-food system of marginalised communities in the region, cattle have great potential to contribute to the goal of reducing food and nutrition insecurity. The region has a population size of about 64 million cattle of which 75% of the population is kept under the smallholder farming systems, and primarily composed of indigenous tropical breeds. Most indigenous cattle breeds are, however, either undergoing rapid genetic dilution or at risk of extinction. At the same time, their environments, production and marketing systems are experiencing high rates of change in time and space. More importantly, indigenous cattle breeds in the region are undervalued. This makes it uncertain that future systems will have the adapted cattle breeds required for optimal livelihoods, food and nutrition security. To this end, the promotion of sustainable use of indigenous cattle for livelihood, food and nutrition security in the SADC region is strongly recommended.
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