East African Dairy Development programme adopts climate-smart agriculture

Photo: S. Odeyo (ICRAF)

The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) programme works to build a robust dairy industry in a region where demand for fresh milk is close to outstripping supply. But livestock emit 12% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. Producing milk with fewer emissions per litre could play a big part in mitigating climate change.

Heifer International and CCAFS scientists are tackling problems in measuring greenhouse gas emissions in smallholder systems arising from a lack of capacity and a lack of standard methods for measuring emissions. Researchers are establishing the costs and benefits of practices aimed at reducing emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change. They are also developing standards for monitoring greenhouse gases in smallholder systems, and agricultural and forest landscapes in developing countries.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), partners in EADD, are helping Heifer reach 179 000 farming families. Together they have increased the total earnings of these families by USD 131 million.

“The resources required to raise livestock and the impacts of farm animals on environments vary dramatically depending on the animal, the type of food it provides, the kind of feed it consumes and where it lives.” Mario Herrero, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia

To boost productivity while generating fewer emissions per litre of milk, ILRI scientists studied feeds for cows that would lower their greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile researchers from ICRAF and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated greenhouse gas emissions and productivity in dairy systems at an EADD site in Kenya.

… better feeding … and manure management can contribute both to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved income for farmers

Working with CCAFS encouraged EADD to adopt climate-smart agriculture as one of its programme objectives. Evidence is mounting that by developing fodder banks, improving pasture species, planting feed legumes, feeding animals with crop by-products and managing with manure in environmentally-friendly ways, farmers can both contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improve their incomes.