Yet more evidence that agriculture–particularly livestock agriculture–needs to be part of climate discussions

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The farmyard, by Marc Chagall, 1954 (via Wikipaintings).

Without big interventions, the future of food security looks bleak.

So says an article in One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World Website.

The clear message from . . . the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report is the urgent need for farmers to adapt to a changing climate and for all countries to seriously engage in mitigating climate change.

‘Within agriculture, enteric fermentation (methane from livestock) accounts for the largest proportion of emissions (39%) and increased 11% between 2001 and 2010 . . . .

‘With crop yields expected to decline (and already declining in many countries) and agricultural emissions appearing to be on an upwards trajectory, the former perhaps incentivising the latter, we need smarter agriculture, that is resilient to future climate change while also reducing GHG emissions, the very goal of sustainable intensification.

‘A recent paper in the Proceedings of…

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Agriculture can rein in greenhouse gas emissions ‘immediately’, say UN and CGIAR

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Portrait of a Boran calf in Yabello, Borena, Oromia, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Camille Hanotte).

The global agricultural sector can curb emissions immediately and provide a window for fossil fuel-guzzling energy and transport sectors to decarbonise before global warming spirals out of control, the United Nations said on Friday (10 November).

‘”In the next few years . . . agriculture . . . could produce early results immediately, cost-effectively and all over the world”, René Castro of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) told the COP23 climate talks in Bonn. That will give energy and transport sectors time to switch to renewables “to really take us out of the precipice and the path we are going on, which is far beyond the goal of two degrees Celsius”, he said.

‘Global temperatures are expected to rise three degrees above pre-industrial levels under current plans to curb emissions. This is far above…

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Beyond meat and methane—Advocating sustainable livestock production

ILRI news

Village women and their livestock in Niger (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

This article is jointly written by Brian Kawuma, an ILRI communications specialist based in Uganda, and Laura Arce, a student at John Cabot University, in Rome, both of whom participated in, and reported on, the 3–5 Oct 2017 GLAD meeting.

For more than 700 million livestock-dependent people across the globe, livestock are much more than a glass of milk or a plate of meat. For these people, livestock are critical economic and cultural assets. For them, livestock provide essential nutrients to mothers and children, livestock manure nourishes and replenishes soil and livestock provide muscle to transport people and goods and to plough fields. Such livestock interests in the South are being drowned out by ongoing livestock debates in the North.

To help counter these unbalanced narratives and to increase understanding of livestock-in-development dialogues, a Global Livestock Advocacy for Development…

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Animal health needs partnerships for vaccine delivery: Lessons from global rinderpest eradication campaign


Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia Cattle being watered at the Ghibe River in southwestern Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The successful eradication of rinderpest in 2011 offers vital lessons that can be applied in the ongoing quest to eradicate other deadly animal diseases.

In an opinion piece in SciDev.Net (16 Aug 2017), Delia Grace, co-leader of the Animal and Human Health program at the International Livestock Research Institute, shares her experiences as part of the global rinderpest eradication campaign.

Read the full article on SciDev.Net

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‘Cattle Genomics in Africa’ discussion forum: 16–26 Aug

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Invitation from Karen Marshall
International Livestock Research Institute
& Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health

Many of the more than 200 million poor livestock keepers in sub-Saharan Africa are looking to improve the productivity of their animal stock. Genetic improvement strategies—particularly when packaged with other interventions improving animal feed and health—offer great potential to accomplish this increased productivity. The use of genomics in Africa is in its early stages; further discussions are needed on where and how genomics can contribute to Africa’s development.  

We will shortly be hosting a virtual discussion forum on ‘Cattle Genomics in Africa’and invite all researchers and implementers in this and related fields to participate.

Discussions during this forum will centre on:
Current and future applications of genomics to cattle in Africa—in particular, which applications are likely to make a difference to poor livestock keepers and to consumers of beef…

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Injection of new genetics funding to boost the health and productivity of Africa’s farm animals

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‘Climate-smart’ native disease-resistant sheep being raised in western Kenya (photo credit: S Kilungu/CCAFS).

‘Efforts to tackle the challenges faced by livestock farmers in developing countries have been boosted by a £10 million research award.

Scientists will use funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to look at how genetic information can improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in tropical climates.

‘The institutions in Scotland and Africa where the researchers are based are also making additional contributions, taking the total funding pot to £20 million over the next five years.

‘The Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health is an alliance between the University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Africa-headquartered International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘The teams plan to investigate the genes that make some animals more resistant to diseases than others. They will also look at why certain breeds are able to thrive in…

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On the heels of the 2011 eradication of cattle plague (rinderpest) is a new ‘frieze-dried’ vaccine that could eradicate goat plague—The Economist reports from ILRI

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Goats being herded near Wajir, northern Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

‘. . . [R]inderpest, a cattle disease similar to measles, which was eradicated in 2011 . . . has plagued Africa and other parts of the world ever since cattle were domesticated. In the 1980s an outbreak, originating in Sudan, killed millions of bovines across the continent. Eradication was a triumph of veterinary medicine, as rinderpest became only the second disease, either animal or human, to be wiped out, the first being smallpox.

It is exciting, therefore, that a team of scientists at a research institute in Kenya think peste des petits ruminants, or “goat plague”, could be eradicated too, thanks to their new vaccine. The disease kills up to 70% of the herds of sheep or goats it infects, animals vital to the survival of many of Africa’s poorest people.

‘The vaccine was created using a process…

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