The feasibility of low emissions development interventions for the East African livestock sector
This paper (PDF) by ILRI, CCAFS and USAID examines the potential of low emissions development interventions or measures to reduce emissions intensity of livestock in East Africa. In both Kenya and Ethiopia, governments, public and private sector investors, and farmers are interested in interventions that can simultaneously improve on-farm productivity and profitability as well as meeting nutritional security needs, with reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity being a co-benefit. The three top recommended practices for reducing GHG emissions intensities are increased production of improved forages in mixed systems and intensive dairy, the increased use of biodigestors in intensive dairy and improving the management of grazing for pastoral systems. Each of these practices might be incentivized in different ways, beyond the immediate direct benefit to producers. The paper notes that the basis for any interventions should be access to improved feeds and forages year round. Promotion of the practices have important implications for social equity in the pursuit of low emission development. Low emissions development interventions pathways based on intensification, for example of dairy, would likely yield landscape or national-scale emission reductions and economic growth for large operators. However, if intensification also leads to concentration of smallholdings into larger-scale farms due to persistent low profit margins, this would substantially disrupt smallholder livelihoods and rural society in general. This is especially important in the absence of viable livelihood alternatives, which characterizes Kenyan and Ethiopia. As yet, it is unclear if there could be mechanisms to effectively safeguard against such outcomes. What is clear is that these potential outcomes can be anticipated and thus need to be considered and addressed alongside the biophysical target of reducing GHG emission intensities. This implies weighing trade-offs between multiple – and potentially conflicting – biophysical, social and political objectives.
A webinar of this study can be found here.