Cleaning up assessments of livestock-environment systems in developing countries with CLEANED

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Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania

Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

As a vegetarian, my occupation as a livestock scientist might come as an odd choice. But here’s the thing: Livestock science isn’t about promoting meat eating; it’s about investigating better ways of farming meat so we don’t harm the environment in the process.

‘Global projections show that rising incomes are only expected to increase the demand for meat. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing.

‘The question for me is not whether we produce or eat meat — but how we do it. And lab-grown meat, which has recently grabbed global headlines, is not the only way.

‘Some key reasons farmers keep animals, especially in developing countries, are so they can earn better incomes, have better prospects for their families, and produce manure to fertilize their farms. Eating meat regularly is often not an option. Milk, eggs and other dairy products, however, contribute…

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Beef cattle grazing on American rangelands—not feedlots—could be net carbon sink

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Beef cattle on pasture in the USA (photo credit: BEEF magazine).

A new research paper by Michigan State University scientists analyses the impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems.

• On-farm beef production and emissions data are combined with 4-year soil carbon analysis.
• Feedlot production produces lower emissions than adaptive multi-paddock grazing.
• Adaptive multi-paddock grazing can sequester large amounts of soil carbon.
• Emissions from the grazing system were offset completely by soil carbon sequestration.
• Soil carbon sequestration from well-managed grazing may help to mitigate climate change.

The following excerpts (excluding references) are from the paper.

‘Beef cattle have been identified as the largest livestock-sector contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Using life cycle analysis (LCA), several studies have concluded that grass-finished beef systems have greater GHG intensities than feedlot-finished (FL) beef systems. These studies…

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Animal health and welfare, two cornerstones of sustainable, responsible and effective food production

ILRI news

Monique Eliot, director general of the OIE, leads a high-level panel discussion at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, in Berlin, 19 Jan 2018 (photo credit: BMEL/Inga Kjer/photothek).

Improved animal health and welfare standards do more than improve animal health and welfare, as important as those are. Applying such standards can increase food production in ways that also protect the environment and enhance the resilience of livestock producers and systems.

Any transition to more responsible and efficient livestock production models depends on nations implementing, and meeting, appropriate health and welfare standards. This is why equipping national officials and private businesses with the technical knowledge and resources to adapt global standards to local circumstances is so important.

This point was repeatedly raised by the keynote speakers at a high-level panel on the future of animal health and welfare organized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as…

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​’If you care about agriculture, you care about livestock’—Bill Gates

‘. . . According to Reuters, the Gates Foundation will pump $40m into research for higher-yielding dairy cows, as well as chickens that lay better quality eggs, livestock vaccines and “supercrops” that can withstand droughts or disease.“

ILRI Clippings

The Cow with the Subtile Nose, by Jean Dubuffet, 1954.

‘. . . According to Reuters, the Gates Foundation will pump $40m into research for higher-yielding dairy cows, as well as chickens that lay better quality eggs, livestock vaccines and “supercrops” that can withstand droughts or disease.

‘These will help farmers in need across the globe—the International Livestock Research Institute says that there are 750 million people in low and middle-income countries who depend on livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) farming, which acts as a source of both nutrition and income.

“If you care about the poor, you should care about agriculture. And if you care about agriculture, you care about livestock,” Gates told an audience at the University of Edinburgh on Friday.

“What that means in this context is helping poor farmers get as much as possible out of their animals.”

‘The input from Gates will be part of a $174 million agricultural project with Britain’s Department…

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DFID/UKAid provides £4 million for genetics and health research to aid sustainable livestock production in Africa

ILRI news

Ploughing with cattle in southwestern Ethiopia

More oxen for ploughing means less labour for farmers (photo: ILRI/Stevie Mann). In Ethiopia’s Ghibe Valley, ILRI-led tsetse fly control methods allowed cattle to flourish in an area previously almost uninhabitable for them. This encouraged more farming in the area, relieving to a degree population and soil erosion pressures in higher, tsetse-free, elevations. Such was the impact this has had on the livelihood of farmer Worku Mengiste that he was able to employ two casual labourers to do work he previously did himself. Here he watches on as they plough his field.

Research to improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in tropical climates has received a £4 million boost from the UK Government.

The investment from the Department for International Development (DFID) was announced by the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, during a visit to the University of Edinburgh.

Funding will enable scientists in…

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Sustainable livestock futures—BMZ, GIZ and ILRI at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture this week

ILRI news

For several days this week (18–20 Jan 2018), several scientific directors and staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)—Jimmy Smith, Shirley Tarawali, Dieter Schillinger, Lutz Merbold and Kristina Roesel—will be participating with several ILRI partners in the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA), held in Berlin, Germany.

This annual German three-day international conference focuses on the future of the global agri-food industry. Now in its tenth year, the GFFA in 2018 is focusing on Shaping the Future of Livestock—Sustainably, Responsibly, Efficiently.

GFFA is organized by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in cooperation with the Berlin Senate, Messe Berlin GmbH and the GFFA Berlin e.V. This is the tenth year of GFFA, which takes place at the start of International Green Week (19–28 Jan 2018), a large Expo-like international exhibition of the food, agriculture and gardening industries. GFFA also includes the

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To transform agricultural extension, give youth a voice



At the recent Africa Agriculture Extension week in Durban, there was a common refrain: “Demand for food in Africa is growing and expected to double by 2050.” This is why we see continued growth and employment opportunities in the agricultural value chain and why agriculture extension—or training– is more important than ever.

So what exactly is agriculture extension? Agricultural extension focuses on delivering advisory services for technologies that help crop, livestock, and fishery farmers, among others. Extension workers are trainers, advisors, project managers, community developers and policy advocators. They also conduct administrative support for local governments and help farmers make decisions and share knowledge. Agriculture extension, which services smallholder farmers throughout the value chain, is crucial in achieving food, nutrition and income security.

Even though agriculture extension is key to building the food systems of the future, it is not always fit for purpose. In Africa, for example…

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