Tag: livestock

Farming in the future: nature versus necessity

Les Firbank

It’s time to engage the public with the difficult choices that lie ahead, says Les Firbank.

Food and farming have rarely been away from the headlines in recent years. One of the ongoing themes has been the alleged departure of modern food production and distribution from so-called ‘natural’ practices. We have seen it in the controversies over genetically modified (GM) crops, the rapid spread of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, and the risks to human health from BSE in cows and salmonella in chicken eggs.
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Simple production changes could benefit farmers and the environment, says Philip Thornton.

Philip Thornton

Livestock enterprises contribute substantially to the world’s greenhouse gases, largely through deforestation to make room for livestock grazing and feed crops, the methane ruminant animals give off, and the nitrous oxide emitted by manure.  Estimates of this contribution vary widely (10-18% (PDF), or more, of global greenhouse-gas emissions) and are still being researched – it’s a complex question and hotly debated.  
Continue reading Reducing carbon hoofprints and increasing tropical farming incomes

Food crisis looming in West Africa

Why is the Sahel food security crisis still below the radar? Kirsty Hughes reports from the region.

Kirsty Hughes

I have just visited the semi-arid Sahel region of West Africa where over ten million people are facing hunger with many, including hundreds of thousands of young children, badly malnourished.

This food crisis is not a new story.
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African livestock for Africa

Let’s understand, utilise and conserve the indigenous cattle breeds, says Oliver Hanotte.

Olivier Hanotte

Livestock is and has been intertwined with African societies for centuries. They provide nutrition, labour, transport and fulfil major socio-cultural roles. It is estimated that 70% of Africa’s rural poor keep livestock and some 200M people rely on these animals for their livelihoods. Indigenous livestock are not only adapted to diverse African agro-ecological production systems – they are also unique and responsive genotypes shaped by the needs of African farmers.
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Andree CarterRight now the European Commission (EC) is working on a new policy framework for assisting developing countries address agriculture and food security challenges.

Why is such a policy important?

Because for developing countries, the consequences of insecure food supplies are severe and undermine development and progress. 3 out of 4 people in developing countries live in rural areas, and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Continue reading Developing countries face a greater threat

Infectious diseases: old enemies and new threats

Martin ShirleyLivestock species are an important part of the human food chain but their health and our agricultural productivity is challenged constantly by infectious diseases. The livestock sector in the UK is worth around £8Bn per annum and the overall costs of animal diseases during the past 15 years are an estimated £15Bn. These costs come from production losses, the eradication of pathogens whose arrival leads to restrictions in livestock trade, and the implementation of strategies to prevent potentially high rates of mortality.
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