Livestock sector in the fastest growing and emerging sector in agriculture in the South Asia and plays an important role in the national economy and in the socio-economic development of the region. Livestock sector, since time immemorial, is an integral part of regional agriculture and in the era of “Ever Green Revolution” its significance is further augmented. This sector with the adoption of advanced technologies is playing important role to fulfil the growing demands of animal sourced safe and healthy food as well as to boost the regional economy significantly. This enterprise provides a flow of essential food products, draught power, manure, employment, income, and export earnings. Distribution of livestock wealth is more egalitarian as compared to land. Hence, from the equity and livelihood perspective, it is considered as an important component of poverty alleviation and women empowerment programmes. SAARC Member States possess about 438.65 million cattle/buffaloes, 396.77 million sheep/goats and 2765.50 million poultry. Average densities of livestock in this region are highest in the world; 70-137 per square km against the world average of 29 per square km. Contribution of livestock to agricultural GDP varies between 13 to 47%. SAARC countries share to world’s meat production is only 5.4% despite rearing a large herd of ruminants. However, such kind of higher growth-linked sector offers not only the opportunities, but also trails with multiple challenges like Incidence of transboundary animal diseases (TADs), Climate change and its impact on environment and animal production, Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in livestock production systems, Low productivity and low genetic potential of the Indigenous Farm Animals etc. The SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC), as the Centre of excellence, has been undertaking various need-based programmes on the important regional challenges of livestock including Transboundary animal disease, zoonotic diseases (rabies), feed and fodder scarcity, dairy cooperatives, feeding and healthcare of livestock during natural calamities, Molecular Diagnosis and Surveillance of PPR, Biosafety and Bio-security for Handling Transboundary Animal Diseases etc.

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Policy Brief