Worldwide, the livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector, providing livelihoods for around 1.3 billion people and contributing about 40 percent to global agricultural output. In poor countries, livestock are also a source of renewable energy and fertiliser.
However, the livestock sector accounts for a significant proportion of the carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane produced from human-related activities. With global meat and milk production forecast to double by 2050, the contribution of livestock to global warming is likely to increase. And methane (23 times) and nitrous oxide (296 times) are considerably more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide.
Consequently, the livestock sector is often condemned for its contribution to climate change but poor smallscale livestock keepers and pastoralists are more likely to be impacted by climate change than to contribute significantly to global warming.
This edition of New Agriculturist focuses on some of the likely impacts of climate change on the livestock sector in the developing world, and on a selection of approaches and initiatives from different regions which demonstrate the resilience of livestock keepers and their determination to survive.