FAO tool can cut livestock emissions 30%
The tool - GLEAM-i (which stands for Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model interactive) - provides answers to a wide range of questions, including informing smaller producers and pastoralists how they can boost egg and milk production, and offers advice on which methods to drive down greenhouse gas emissions they ought to back.
It is based on the GLEAM model developed by FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division, and can be run by anyone using Microsoft Excel software, including community organisations working in remote rural areas.
The tool includes variables such as countries and regions, the number and types of livestock - dairy or meat sheep, backyard or industrial pigs, grazing or mixed systems - feed materials, manure management as well as the specific conditions under which animals are kept.
Hundreds of millions of people around the planet depend on livestock for livelihoods, food security and nutrition, and the sector is proving particularly important for developing countries where demand for animal protein is growing, as well as more remote areas and those with poorer quality land where fewer alternatives exist.
Even so, the sector is responsible for most agricultural pollution - and FAO has said that, after coal fired power generation, has the highest impact per industry on the environment when measured in monetary terms - accounting as it does for 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
FAO claims that by making changes based on its GLEAM model, livestock farmers can increase production and reduce emissions by nearly a third.
Precise information about the environmental footprint of livestock supply chains will also help governments and policy makers to take better-informed decisions and reduce greenhouse gases emissions.
The model is supporting national and international projects in South American and East and West Africa. ■