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Little known about climate impacts on livestock - research priorities outlined

In a new brief, researchers point out that little is known about how climate will impact livestock keepers. Priorities going forward are set-out in this ILRI and CCAFS joint brief. Photo: V. Meadu (CCAFS)
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re-posted from the ILRI blog

"The story of human settlement and human evolution is very much tied to the fact that the earth’s climate has always been changing, and will continue to do so."

So begins a new brief developed by agricultural systems and climate change scientist Philip Thornton and his colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, Kenya.

The brief goes on to say the following:

What is known about the likely impacts of climate change on resource-poor livestock keepers in the developing world? Relatively little, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) are working to improve this knowledge.

This Brief, Climate change: Do we know how it will affect smallholder livestock farmers?, outlines how a group of scientists at ILRI reviewed some elements of the complex relationship between livestock and climate change in developing countries with a forward-looking approach. The objective was to help set research priorities: to inform the debate as to what research for development organizations could and should be doing in the area of climate change work that could add value to the large amounts of work already being carried out by the global change community on cropping systems and natural resources management.

Resource-poor livestock keepers: Mitigate and adapt

Changes in climate and climate variability will affect livestock production systems in all parts of the world, and will inevitably impact the 1.3 billion poor people whose livelihoods are wholly or partially dependent on livestock. At the same time, livestock production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, livestock keepers will have to mitigate emissions as well as adapt to change.

View: Live Video Science Seminar - Mitigation potentials in the livestock sector

The adaptation and mitigation that are necessary may require significant changes in production technology and livestock production systems, which could affect productivity, incomes and livelihoods. Livestock production systems are highly heterogeneous, however, and different production systems have different capacities to adapt or to take on board the policy and regulatory changes that may be required in the future.

Read the rest of this story on the ILRI blog!

Get the brief: Climate change: Do we know how it will affect smallholder livestock farmers? (PDF), by Philip Thornton, Jeannette van de Steeg, An Notenbaert and Mario Herrero, a GFAR ‘The Futures of Agriculture’ Brief No. 43, May 2013.