Countries Exchange Experiences for Better Production of Cattle

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To help increase the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of cattle production, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a knowledge-exchange workshop for smallholders on December 1-2 in Budapest. 

The objective of the event was to gather experts and sector representatives to share knowledge, skills, and successful initiatives, with a particular emphasis on cattle production.

In Europe and Central Asia, cattle are a popular choice of livestock among smallholder farmers because the animals can contribute diverse assets to the farm. They are an important source of food, income, and employment as well as fertilizer, and can be useful in weed control and management of marginal lands, FAO says.

"In many countries of Europe and Central Asia, cattle breeding is done almost exclusively by family farmers, therefore, every improvement in cattle production can have further positive repercussions in rural areas and farmers’ livelihoods," said Tibor Szűcs, FAO livestock production specialist.

However, the potential of cattle and cattle production in delivering these benefits is much bigger than is currently being realized.

“Appropriate development measures, together with well-designed programs for local breeds can bring about multiple improvements: these would not only ensure better production but also increase resilience of the sector and farmers alike, not to mention the possible advances in preserving genetic diversity that is inevitable for sustainable production,” Szűcs added.

Workshop participants learned about many aspects of smallholder cattle production. The agenda included breeding strategies for Caucasian and Carpathian Brown cattle, which are in the focus of a multi-country FAO project supporting the livelihoods of cattle-producer families through the conservation and development of local cattle varieties.

Representatives of the Czech Ministry of Agriculture, the main supporter of the event, shared their perspectives on dairy and beef systems. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Ireland, the European Union, and other countries contributed to the discussion on cattle breeding. The impact of the war in Ukraine on smallholder dairy farmers in Albania and the use of artificial insemination as a tool to improve productivity in Armenia were also discussed.

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