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 Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid