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Food Security, Poverty and Diversification: Relative Contribution of Livestock Activities on Small-scale Farms in Egypt

by Vincent Martin, Véronique Alary, Annabelle Daburon, Ahmed Ali, Mona A. Osman, Ehab Salah, Adel Aboulnaga, Eitedal Hassan, Adel Abdel Aziz, and Céline Dutilly


The often-cited means to reduce poverty in rural areas is to push the sustainable intensification of the agricultural sector or to favor a livelihood diversification strategy. However, rural households that invest their resources in multiple domains can achieve contrasting livelihood returns and benefits. The present paper explores the contribution of livestock activities, especially dairy, in the various livelihood strategies of rural households, based on an evaluation of revenue repartition, poverty level, and nutrient input in the diverse households, using a simulation tool at the farm household level. Our research was carried out in a case study on the viability of rural households in the governorate of Beni Suef (Middle Egypt). The results show that the diversification of activities towards cropping activities and off-farm jobs in the household contributed more to poverty reduction than dairy activities. Householders with small herds and land access benefited weakly from milk price increases and more generally, from a specialization of dairy activities due to structural constraints. This calls for identifying new rural policies for small-scale (less than 2.5ha) units that represent more than 90 percent of family farms in Egypt. Notably, new job opportunities and diversification should be developed along the agro-food value chain process.

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Vincent Martin1, Véronique Alary2,3, Annabelle Daburon3, Ahmed Ali 5, Mona A. Osman5, Ehab Salah5, Adel Aboulnaga5, Eitedal Hassan5, Adel Abdel Aziz 5, and Céline Dutilly6,7

1 CIRAD, ICARDA, 15 (G) Radwan Ibn El-Tabib St., 2416, Giza, Egypt

2 CIRAD, ICARDA, Station Exp. INRA-Quich, Rue Hafiane Cherkaoui. Agdal, B.P. 6299, Rabat, Morocco; Corresponding author: Email:,   Mobile ph.: (212) 6 54 07 22 48; ORCID:

3 CIRAD, UMR SELMET, TA C-112/A, Campus international de Baillarguet, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France ;

4 SELMET, Univ Montpellier, CIRAD, Montpellier, France.

5 Animal production Research Institute (APRI)/ Agricultural Research Centre (ARC), Nadi El-Said St., Dokki, Giza, Egypt.

6 CIRAD, UMR MOISA, F-34398 Montpellier, France.

7 MOISA, Univ Montpellier, CIRAD, Montpellier, France.