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The Role of Small-Scale Livestock Farming in Climate Change and Food Security. Rivera-Ferre, M. G., López-i-Gelats, F., 2012
Since the FAO Livestock’s Long Shadow Report in 2006, there has been mounting research on the role of livestock in food security, the growth in the livestock sector, and its impact on climate change (CC). As of 2000, the livestock sector has been estimated to account for 18% of man-made GHG emissions.
Other authors instead suggest that this value is largely underestimated, as livestock production seems to make up 51% of total GHG emissions. In any case, the livestock sector is a major contributor of GHG emissions and therefore one of the targets of any mitigation policy. In addition, the livestock sector absorbs 58% of direct human appropriation of bio mass, 70% of agricultural land (from which 33% is designed to feed crop production) and 30% of land globally. Unfortunately, only few attempts were made to address the issue of livestock and CC, and differentiate within it different categories of livestock farming systems, so to inspire specific policy measures to deal with these farming systems according to their different category.
This report aims at contextualizing the role small-scale livestock farming (SSLF) plays in the CC debate and at highlighting its potential contribution to food security. The two major hypotheses arising from the study are:
a. SSLF can contribute to CC mitigation and needs to be integrated into the difinition of policy measures;
b. actions taken by local communities, mostly based on traditions and local knowledge, can serve as a reliable set of CC mitigation measures while contributing to global food security.
The questions the report tries to address can be summarized as follows:
(i) how sustainable are small-scale livestock farming systems and can they contribute to CC mitigation;
(ii) how efficient are SSLF practices in producing animal source foods needed by growing population and in responding to future food security challenges;
(iii) how successfully SSLF communities have traditionally adjusted to climate variability and how their strategies can help better respond to CC. As part of the report we will illustrate how SSLF, and more specifically pastoralism, fit into the new solutions.
To address the above issues, the report provides a new categorization of livestock production systems, going beyond conventional categories. Our attempt is to integrate the classification process with livestock farming systems’ multiple inputs and to link the above process to each type of production system, so as to add a food system approach to the categories. Subsequently the report critically reviews the existing literature on livestock production and mitigation alternatives. Finally, based on four case studies, it presents the adaptation measures undertaken by small-scale livestock farming communities in Turkana (Kenya), Alaotra Lake (Madagascar), Khar-o-Touran (Iran) and Huancavelica (Peru), and illustrates key socio-economic drivers that intensify CC’s effects and undermine their adaptation capacity.