For people living in absolute poverty and chronic hunger, the solution is not to rid the world of livestock, but to find ways to farm animals more efficiently and more sustainably
Driven by population growth, urbanization and rising incomes, demand for livestock products in Africa and Asia may increase by 200% by 2030. Increased availability of milk, meat and eggs offers huge opportunities to meet this demand, improve diets and decrease malnourishment, especially among millions of infants, school-age children and pregnant and lactating women. New livestock-related businesses could also enhance the incomes of poor people and enable them to purchase better food for their families. But the supply of livestock products in many developing countries is constrained by low animal productivity, largely due to shortages of quality animal feed.
Berhe Tekola, director of the Animal Production and Health Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this weekpublished an opinion piece in the Bangkok Post (25 Jun 2018), reminds readers that livestock are integral to the fabric of life in many developing countries.
The debate over whether a vegetarian diet is better for the planet is top of mind for many as news of water scarcity, climate change, and deforestation seem to worsen by the day. Sarah Taber, a US-based agricultural scientist added another angle to the debate earlier this month when she laid out the argument that calling vegetarianism and/or veganism a universally ‘better’ diet is a form of colonialist thinking.
Bihar is gearing up for a ‘livestock master plan’ being prepared for it by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ‘It is almost ready and ILRI experts will present its draft to the government here on July 4. The master plan, which will be for a 15–year period, will emphasise on various steps to give a push to dairy, goat-rearing, poultry, piggery and other allied sectors with an aim to improving food security and reducing poverty through better and more sustainable use of livestock.
Agricultural ecologist Ian Scoones has some important and thoughtful things to say about the science and media publications promoting the recent ‘vegan craze’ in rich countries and the impacts of those publications on millions of livestock herders in poor countries.
Enthusiastic traders from several counties in northern Kenya and from across the border in Ethiopia joined a livestock trade facilitation forum in Marsabit, Kenya on May 9. By close of business, participating livestock buyers and sellers signed contracts for a total of 5,373 livestock at a value of $406,774.
What the evidence shows is that becoming vegetarian might help reduce your personal footprint—but it will be better to focus on a range of solutions if we want to have an impact on climate change.