By Maina Simon
The World Animal Protection has urged African governments to promote sustainable and humane animal protection systems in order to promote climate restoration.
“The rapid growth of the human population particularly in Africa, coupled with increasing affluence, has led to a surge in demand for animal products. Consequently, intensification of livestock production is gaining popularity to meet this demand,” Dr. Victor Yamo, the Farming Campaigns Manage at World Animal Protection said.
“However, the intensive livestock production is associated with significant animal abuse, water and environmental pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and increased greenhouse emissions, making it an unsustainable method of food production.”
He was speaking during the 2nd Africa Protein Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The two-day summit highlighted the urgent need to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of intensive livestock production systems and emphasize the importance of preserving traditional, resilient and humane production systems that support small-scale farmers in the region.
The summit highlighted animal welfare, public health concerns and adverse effects on the environment and climate change as negative impacts associated with intensive livestock production systems.
It also recognized that Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions are mainly from agriculture, forestry and other land-use change estimated at 65% of the continent’s emissions.
Experts attending the summit noted that although there is room for the lowest meat consumption countries in Africa to increase the rates of meat consumption to meet nutritional needs, embracing intensive livestock production systems that will not only endanger food and nutrition security but also the livelihoods of the smallholder producer while worsening the superbug and the climate crisis.
Therefore, in order to promote sustainable and humane animal production, the summit’s stakeholders agreed that African governments have to acknowledge and regulate the greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture and hold agricultural companies with high emissions accountable for their carbon footprint and low regard for animal welfare.
They should also protect smallholder livestock producers by empowering them with animal husbandry knowledge and skills while providing them with timely climate information and early systems to stay competitive in the market.
Additionally, the stakeholders urged African governments to redirect subsidies provided to large agribusinesses towards smallholders, who are the backbone of feeding the growing population in the continent.
They should also increase awareness of alternative protein sources that can be used to meet nutrition requirements while redirecting sources towards awareness creation to achieve attitude and behavior change from intensive meat consumption to alternative protein sources.
Finally, they called on African governments to bring stakeholders together to create a policy statement on sustainable agricultural production.