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The conservation of livestock genetic diversity can be enhanced through greater engagement of women in projects, policies and programs, in a way that contributes to biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

FAO5 November 2012: A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) finds that two-thirds of the poor individuals raising livestock are women, and that they play an important role in maintaining indigenous breeds.

The report, “Invisible Guardian: Women manage livestock diversity,” underscores that indigenous breeds are often well adapted to local conditions and disease, and are more resilient than more common domesticated breeds, and tend to cost less to maintain. As a result, the report argues, indigenous breeds offer potential genetic resources for effective adaptation to climate change.

The report highlights opportunities to enhance women’s roles as guardians of livestock diversity. It provides recommendations to integrate gender issues into projects and policies through: collecting disaggregated data on the roles of women; designing extension and training to be accessible to women; investigating family structures of women and how they influence the ability of women to interact in projects; and investigating problems women have in accessing markets for animal products.

It also presents additional opportunities for conserving livestock diversity, including: studies on the economics of locally adapted vs. improved breeds; ensuring grazing access; increasing credit available to rural women; and supporting value chains for indigenous breeds. [FAO Press Release] [Publication: Invisible Guardians: Women Manage Livestock Diversity]

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