Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Food Security and Climate Change

I am an applied animal scientist and had been working with livestock breeds issues in the context of food security and climate change. Climate change is affecting and will affect (worst) animal genetic resources for food and agriculture and its production systems. Most probably with the consequences of climate change, every year new diseases inter in the disease register of livestock species. Last year a fatal respiratory camel disease was reported from many quarters of Asia, while killing hundreds of camels. The disease was linked to the dry spell in the desert because of no rains.
On the other hand, introduction of exotic high yielding livestock breeds (mostly Holstein cow) in the dry lands of the globe is a useless and desecrate exercise. Such breeds need very high inputs. While providing a favorable environment a lot of energy and water are needed. Grain feeding, high veterinary inputs, need for skilled human resources and other limiting factors are also link to such breeds.
Local/indigenous livestock breeds are very important and play pivotal role in food security and livelihood earning of the livestock keepers in the world. Such breeds need very low or even zero inputs. They rely on marginal lands, not suitable for agricultural activities. Local breeds are highly resistant to the climate change affects, diseases, feed/water scarcity and droughts.
Unfortunately, there is political and industrial backing for the introduction of exotic breeds just for monitory interest. Local livestock breeds are always neglected while formulating policies for food security and livestock production. The local livestock farmers are also neglected and never participated in policies formulation. Such circumstances make it difficult to achieve the goals of food security, especially in the climate change context. LIFE Network has introduced the idea of livestock keepers’ rights.
Also climate change issue is always dragging politically. Carbon credits, methane gas production etc, all are considered as the produce of animals, especially livestock of food and agriculture. In this context thousands of Australian camels are proposed to be killed/shoot as carbon credits. Such methodologies are unacceptable and cannot help in reality. The same camel can be use as food aid and food security in the drought affected areas, once provided those camels to Australia, especially Afghan people.

In short local livestock breeds can be the best tool to combat the affects of climate change on one hand and to reach the goals of food security on the other hand.

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