Agri Business

Livestock sector faces new challenges: Report

Mony K. Mathew Kozhikode | Updated on December 16, 2011 Published on December 15, 2011

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The growing global population has thrown up many a concern over what hold for different sectors in future and one of the major areas that has been engaging the attention of scientists, economists and policy-makers is food security.

Come 2050, the consumption of animal protein in the world will be two-thirds more than today's volume.

And the questions on raising the supply to meet the increasing demand have focused on the strains that it will cause to the natural resources of the planet.

Meat consumption

According to a report, titled ‘World Livestock 2011', released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), world meat consumption is projected to rise around 73 per cent and dairy consumption by 58 per cent by 2050 over the current levels.

This will have to be met by large-scale and intensive animal-rearing operations and as of now, there are no technically or economically viable alternatives to achieve the desired levels of production. The existing systems give rise to concerns about their environmental impacts such as groundwater pollution and greenhouse emissions, as well as their ‘potential to act as incubators of diseases', says the report.

Since 1967, global production of poultry meat increased by around 700 per cent, eggs by 350 per cent, pig meat by 290 per cent, sheep and goat meat by 200 per cent, beef and buffalo meat by 180 per cent and milk by 180 per cent.

This resulted largely from an increase in the overall number of animals being raised.

But using the same level of natural resources as at present, it is hard to think about meeting the projected demand by keeping twice as many poultry, 80 per cent more goats and sheep, 50 per cent more cattle and 40 per cent more pigs, feels the report.

To raise production

It notes that based on the existing knowledge and technology, there are three ways of increasing the production in an environmental-friendly manner: reduce the level of pollution generated from waste and greenhouse gases; bring down the input of water and grain needed for output of livestock protein; and recycle agro-industrial by-products through livestock populations.

Livestock products today contribute 12.9 per cent of calories consumed worldwide and 20.3 per cent in developed countries.

Their share to protein consumption is estimated at 27.9 per cent worldwide and 47.8 per cent in developed countries, says the report.

vinoottan@thehindu.co.in

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Published on December 15, 2011
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