By Silvia Silvestri and Jane Gitau
The livestock scene in Africa is dramatically changing, with increased population growth, putting pressure on resources, and growing consumption of meat, milk and eggs.
The need for more protein however, has been met through increasing the number of animals rather than improving the livestock productivity. This was noted by Mario Herrero, former team leader at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), who spoke at a workshop held a while back in Nairobi, Kenya.
His recommendations, looking forward, is to concentrate on improving efficiency, in the livestock sector, thus reducing the GHG emissions per unit. Read more »
By Nancy Moss
"Fewer but better fed animals can make livestock production more efficient." This was said by Mario Herrero at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi. Herrero was speaking on 13 November 2012 in the fourth of a series of science seminars organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The presentation was live-streamed to an online audience of 220 people in front of a live audience of 40.
Herrero, an agricultural systems analyst at ILRI, gave an up-to-date overview of ways the livestock sector in developing countries can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions."We face the challenge of feeding an increasing human population, estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050, and doing so in ways that are socially just, economically profitable and environmental friendly," he said. Read more »
By Clare Pedrick
Dry lands countries have a range of opportunities to increase their food production and reduce risk, in spite of climate change.
The international meeting on food security in dry lands, starting yesterday in Doha, Qatar, heard that two key strategies for the world’s dry lands are to ‘sustainably intensify’ food production in high potential rural areas. And in the most marginal lands, devise strategies for farming to be more resilient to climate change – reducing vulnerability for the most affected rural communities. Read more »
edited by Cecilia Schubert
Pastoralists on the Borana Plateau of Ethiopia are tirelessly dealing with extended and more frequent droughts, occurring at a scale they have seldom witnessed before. At the same time, they have to adapt to population growth, land use changes and unreliable climate patterns, in the midst of the ongoing struggle against dried up pastures. The common perception among the pastoralists is that droughts are increasing, in severity, and duration. They also feel that increased cropping and town sprawl have captured much of the fertile pastures, leaving little left for animals to graze on. In the light of these environmental and social changes, how are pastoralists, non-governmental organizations and government responding? Which responses are likely to be most successful and how will the various initiatives interact?
Video poster: Climate Risk Adaptation Strategies of Boran Pastoralists
Last week, The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change released its recommendations to help the world achieve food security in the face of climate change.
The current issue of New Scientist publishes an article describing a recently released study, ‘Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change’, which was commissioned by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research). For more on that study, see the CCAFS news release of 16 November 2011: ‘Global Commission Charts Pathway for Achieving Food Security in Face of Climate Change‘.
Sujata Gupta’s New Scientist article on meat consumption, ‘Just how much meat can eco-citizens eat?’ (online publication date: 16 November 2011; print issue date: 19 November 2011; print issue number: 2839), contains what we believe is a factual error. Gupta quotes a 2007 article in the Lancet (‘Food, livestock production, energy, climate change, and health’, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61256-2) that 80% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions come from meat production.
More credible figures, compiled from international global assessments by agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero and his colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute, are the following: Read more »
Last week, we shared the news that cattle herders in Kenya had received their first payments as part of an innovative livestock insurance scheme, partly set up by our partners the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Now, we share a farm-level view of the scheme, courtesy of Neil Palmer (republished from the CIAT blog).
What hits you when you get out of the truck at Ginda Village, in Northern Kenya, is the smell.
Farmer Haro Sora’s land is littered with the carcasses of cattle and donkeys that have keeled over following an intense, prolonged drought. A skull here; half a ribcage there. In some places there are whole animals slumped on the roadside. Some have died in the last few days, and the wind does little to clear the air.
Ginda, in Marsabit District, has been affected by the now infamous Horn of Africa drought, which triggered a food crisis affecting around 13 million people in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. After more than a year, the rains finally returned to Ginda a fortnight ago.
The fact that the food crisis in the Horn was the result of a livestock crisis has been well documented. A major pastoralist zone, when vegetation for grazing began to dry-up and livestock started to die, the knock-on effects on farmer livelihoods became strikingly clear.
Now, whatever your gut reaction to the principle of a financial institution selling insurance to already cash-strapped smallholder farmers to protect them against the risk of drought, there are 650 livestock keepers in Marsabit this year who are delighted to be receiving their first payouts. Read more »
Herders in Northern Kenya who have lost their cattle due to the intensive drought are getting their first payments as part of an innovative insurance program known as Index Based Livestock Insurance or IBLI. This was reported by the International Livestock Research Institute who developed this insurance programme together with Cornell University and the Index Insurance Innovation Initiative program at the University of California at Davis. Read more »
Le récent rapport Prospective sur l'avenir de l'alimentation et l'agriculture fournit une riche base de référence pour orienter les décisions actuelles qui assureront l'alimentation et l'agriculture dans les décennies à venir. Néanmoins, un message frappant qui se dégage de ce rapport est le fait qu’une science solide ne suffit pas á orienter la politique.
L’examen détaillé d’une seule de la centaine d’études de référence montre en effet á quel point, si bien l’évidence technique peut informer, elle peut substituer un consensus sociétal.
L’article de Tara Garnett Où se trouvent les meilleures opportunités pour réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre dans le système alimentaire (y compris la chaîne alimentaire)? est l’un des rares qui répond à la question posée dans le titre. Les mesures visant á une amélioration du stockage de carbone, une plus grande efficacité, et des changements des modes de consommation représentent les meilleures d'options, mais à condition qu’elles soient abordées conjointement. Pas de quoi se surprendre, tout est dans le détail.
Dans les pays à haut revenus, les émissions totales tout au long de la de la chaîne alimentaire sont réparties 50:50 entre les activités pré-récolte - principalement l'agriculture, ainsi que la fabrication d’intrants comme les engrais - et les étapes post-récolte comprenant la transformation, le conditionnement, le stockage, la distribution et la préparation des aliments. L’article de Garnett ne considère pas l’évidence bien plus rare relative aux pays à faible et moyens revenus, or une analyse récente de l'Inde estime que seulement 13% du total des émissions proviendrait de ces stades post-récolte, et ce en raison du transport et la réfrigération bien moins importants.
Read more »
The recent Foresight report on the future of food and farming provides a rich evidence base to guide decisions today that will secure food and agriculture in decades to come. But a striking message from Foresight is that strong science is insufficient to guide policy. Putting our microscope to just one among the 100 background studies shows how technical evidence can inform, but not substitute for, societal consensus.
Where are the best opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the food system (including the food chain)? by Tara Garnett is one of those rare articles that answers the question presented in the title. Enhanced carbon storage, greater efficiency, and changed patterns of consumption give the best set of options, provided they are tackled together. Not surprisingly though, the detail is what counts.
In high-income countries, total emissions along the food chain are split 50:50 between pre-farmgate activities – agriculture mainly, plus manufacture of inputs like fertilizers – and the post-farmgate stages of processing, packaging, storage, distribution and preparation of food. Garnett’s article does not consider the scarcer evidence for middle- and low-income countries, but a recent analysis from India estimates that only 13% of total emissions come from post-farmgate stages, due to much less transport and refrigeration. Read more »
The role played by livestock in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions has been covered in much mainstream media, with the UN urging a global move to a meat and dairy free diet. As the world's population increases, and more people become wealthy enough to afford to eat meat and dairy regularly, the impact of livestock on ecosystems is becoming more severe. Ernst von Weizsaecker, an environmental scientist who contributed to the UN study said:
"livestock now consumes much of the world's crops and by inference a great deal of freshwater, fertilisers and pesticides."
It's not likely that North Americans will go completely vegetarian, or that increasingly wealthy Chinese consumers will stop demanding meat; however, there are smaller scale opportunities for reducing the impact of livestock on the environment, and making it part of the solution to climate change.
Our colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) point to the opportunities for livestock farmers both to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, in the recently released WorldWatch "State of the World: Innovations that Nourish the Planet": Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)