Livestock production and greenhouse gas emissions in the Southern African Development Community: Historical trends and prospects for mitigation

Livestock production and greenhouse gas emissions in the Southern African Development Community: Historical trends and prospects for mitigation 2560 1113 aflp

Livestock production and GHG in SADC: Historical trends and prospects for mitigation

Executive Summary:

There is increasing recognition of the need to sustainably increase livestock production to meet the growing human demand for livestock products in southern Africa while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in response to climate change. However, stakeholders are faced with limited data and understanding to adequately incorporate information about livestock production and GHG emissions into livestock policy interventions. This paper provides an overview of the status of socio-economic factors driving production and consumption of livestock-derived foods at country- and regional- level, and explores the current status and trends in livestock population, production and GHG emissions over the past two decades, to improve the stakeholders’ awareness about the linkages between these changes. In 2020, cattle, goat, sheep, pig and poultry populations were 75, 60, 37, 19.4 and 450 million, respectively. Pig (mean; 11.7 mill.) and poultry populations (0.38 mill.) have generally increased across the region by 141 and 45 percent respectively. Cattle (67.2 mill.) and goats (49.9 mill.) populations have also grown by 20 and 53 percent respectively mostly in low-income (LICs) and low-middle income countries (LMICs) while these species declined significantly in upper-middle- and high-income countries (UMHICs). Sheep numbers (37.5 mill.) portrayed a negative (-5 %) trend owing to huge population decline in UMHICs. Livestock population growth led to improved meat (4.3 MT), milk (7.6 MT) and egg (7.0 MT) production across the region by 100, 64 and 65 percent, respectively mostly in LICs and LMICs. In 2020, the region produced 5.9, 9.6 and 0.9 million tonnes of meat, milk and eggs, respectively. Country-level increases were highest for egg production (2800 %), followed by meat (618 %) and milk production (324 %). Subsequent enteric methane (76589 Gg CO2-eq) and manure management emissions (4644 Gg CO2-eq) showed a temporal and spatial pattern similar to livestock population trends by increasing by 21 and 58 percent, respectively.

Total livestock related GHG emissions ranged between 71000 and 91000 Gg CO2-eq over the past two decades, accounting for up to 40 percent of regional agricultural emissions. Current evidence reveals that full adoption of most effective mitigation strategies in African countries by 2050 may still see countries fail to meet their contribution to the global mitigation goal. The mitigation efforts will likely be offset by the projected GHG increases due to sustained demand for livestock-derived foods, mostly in LICs and LMICs. The first step and entry point for reducing GHG emission intensity in extensive livestock systems dominating the region is to improve production efficiency by adopting the good practices already existing within the current production systems. These practices help support food and nutrition security and benefit in reducing degradation while avoiding emissions in grazing lands. There is optimism that a combination of high demand for livestock-derived foods, intensification of smallholder livestock systems and shift from extensive ruminant to intensive monogastric systems could lead to improved production efficiency and reduced GHG emission intensity in sub-Saharan Africa. The information presented in this paper is necessary for guiding policy makers to integrate GHG baselines and mitigation issues when planning livestock policy interventions.

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