Putting the Economic Analysis of
Animal Genetic Resources Into
Approximately 70% of the world’s rural poor depend on livestock as a component of their livelihoods. Animals of different characteristics and hence outputs suit differing local community needs. Livestock diversity thus contributes in many ways to human survival and well-being. Despite the importance of this diversity, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 1/3 of livestock breeds worldwide are at risk of becoming extinct and the rate of extinction continues to accelerate.
Economic arguments for the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources (AnGR) can be an effective means of garnering the necessary support for the development of appropriate enabling environments. However, economic valuation of AnGR has received only limited attention, even though a conceptual framework exists for the valuation of biodiversity in general. The main reasons for this include: methodological difficulties inherent in valuing genetic resources (as opposed to biodiversity per se); limited knowledge about appropriate analytical techniques; and a lack of data regarding local breeds.
As recent advances in the field of economic valuation have increasingly eased methodological/analytical constraints, data availability has become more of a bottleneck. The latter is particularly complicated by the problems of missing markets and market imperfections commonly encountered in developing country situations where marginal and subsistence food production systems dominate the