Livestock for Futures and Global Agenda of Action (GAA)
There is ever increasing demand for meat, milk and other livestock products because of crawling urbanization, developing economies, population pressure and awareness about livestock based food stuffs (contrary to developed countries, where the people are minimizing usage of animal products, especially meat). Up to 2050, there is a challenge of more meat and milk 74 % and 52% respectively to fulfil nutritional requirements. In the meanwhile some hot issues are also interconnected to livestock i.e. food security, environmental issues, feed and water scarceness, human health and biodiversity etc. In the above mentioned situation GAA stresses for a sustainable livestock production systems to keep a smooth course of animal based food products.
To understand the chemistry of sustainable livestock production, we need to know in depth about the current livestock production systems prevailing in at global level. In a broader sense there are two production systems like that of high input livestock production systems (HILPS) and small scaled livestock production systems (SSLPS).
High Input Livestock Production system (HILPS) is composed of high yielding genetic resources (cattle, pig, chicken, maize and soy), heavy mechanization/automation, large strips of land, heavy loans and subsidies, tax payer money, modern education/techniques, processing plants and corporate sector support. The system provokes import of feed resources, especially soy and export food items and even manure. Such system demands huge consumption of fossil oil which further complicates the question of sustainability.
On the other hand, SSLPS depend on a wide flora and fauna biodiversity. This system not only produces healthier food but also provides eco-system services and touristic opportunities. The system is highly sustainable and evolved with precious traditional knowledge. This system relies on local feed resources and high level import of feed resources is out of question.
Threats from High Input Livestock Production system (HILPS)
To beat the challenges of ever increasing food items, HILP is generally supported among the policy makers to beat this challenge. In contrary small-scaled livestock production (SSLP) is always neglected and even considered as backward and worthless. The rich industrialized livestock production system is getting more and more volume while engulfing small scale farming consequential in a threat to precious biodiversity of livestock and other related biomasses. The use of narrow based genetic material making it susceptible to catastrophe of certain genes’ linked diseases which further deepens the concerns about its sustainability. The present HILP is not sustainable and this bubble cannot inflate further. The rupture of this bubble can create further catastrophes which demands for making it sustainable. Regrettably, such theme is still embryonic among the policy makers.
In Europe, USA and other industrialized countries the number of farms are lessening and number of livestock is increasing. Such intensification provokes other problems like that of environment and animal welfare. HILPS is centered on high level import of Soy and corn from Latin America resulting in marginalization of small keepers over there and promote land grabbing. The precious and wide biodiversity of rain forests is on stake because of this mega monster.
To achieve the goal of sustainable livestock future, some suggestions are hereby presented in the ensuing lines.
- Taking small scaled livestock keepers on-board at policy levels (local, national, regional and international levels) is the paramount need of time
- Linking small farmers with the market through branding of its products and value addition
- A diverse livestock production system based on a many pillars, like biodiversity, TK, culture, heritage, ecosystem services and management, native livestock breeds, is more sustainable and can produce healthy food
- There is utmost need of time to understand and study SSLPS and evaluate in a broader module to compare with HILPS
- Convincing consumers to pay more for the products come from the pastoral and small scale livestock keepers
- Agriculture should declare as heritage but not only food production factory by the developing countries
- Promotion of production in balance, not import feed and not export manure
The above paragraphs were written in the context of GAA of the FAO and Livestock for Futures Conference in Bonn, Germany.
For further reading please go to the links below.