News / Africa

Africa’s Livestock Demand Better Feeding

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Africans will have to improve the quality and quantity of what they feed their livestock to compete in the world market and reduce the industry’s impact on climate change, says a new global study.

The study reveals how diet and digestion in livestock impacts climate change around the world. Scientists who conducted the study say it is the newest comprehensive assessment assembled of what cows, sheep, pigs, poultry and other farm animals are eating in different parts of the world and how efficiently they convert that feed into milk, eggs, and meat while also focusing on the amount of greenhouse gases they produce. 

In addition, the study found that animals in Africa and in many other parts of the developing world require far more food to produce a kilo of protein than animals in wealthy countries. 

Mario Herrero of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) says farmers face more challenges in sub-Saharan Africa in trying to improve protein production, while simultaneously reducing emissions. Herrero is lead author of the study that was released at the Australian government’s offices in Brisbane, Australia.

“First, you have relatively little biomass in some of the places,” said Herrero. It’s a matter of having enough to feed the animals, he said. Next, it’s a question of improving the quality, “developing much better feeding practices to increase productivity and incomes.”

Most of the scientific community is working now on developing new technologies and feeding practices that will actually deal with the feed supply problem, while improving the feed at the same time, Herrero explains.

The CSIRO data, which was published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” found sharp contrasts in livestock production and diets. For example, cattle in Latin America, Europe and North America produced 59 million tons of beef in 2000.  In contrast, sub-Saharan Africa produced only 3 million tons of beef.

Livestock in the more developed areas of the world consume about 1.3 billion tons of grain every year. While in sub-Saharan Africa, all of the livestock rely mostly on grasses and “stovers” - the leaf and stalk residues of crops left in the field after harvest - for nutrition.

Herrero says you can improve the quality of grasses that would lead to potentially doubling or tripling productivity.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is studying ways to grow crops where the stover and the straws have greater nutritional value, he explains. 

“And this is a fascinating area of research that the CGIAR centers are really contributing to. They found that with these improved stovers you can at least double productivity in some of the cases,” Herrero says. Then, the farmer has the same amount of grain but with a crop residue that is much better for the animal.

Livestock produce 12 to 18 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, Herrero said. However, with continued increases in livestock emissions of methane gas, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide emissions, he says we could see further increases in temperatures and disruption of the climate cycles.

To reduce the effect livestock have on climate change, especially in developing countries, Herrero says farmers need to become more market orientated, “so that they can try to produce more animal product. 

At the same time, creating more markets also implies the provision of services, improved varieties of grasses, and other inputs.  “It’s really a whole package to help farmers intensify their production practices,” the scientist emphasizes.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs