Friday, February 3, 2012

Ethiopia, Lifestock and Food Security

Brighter Green, a New York-based public policy action organization, used climate change as the point of entry to explore the effects of the expansion and intensification of the livestock sector in Ethiopia for food security, resource use, equity and sustainability. Titled Climate, Food Security, and Growth: Ethiopia's Complex Relationship with Livestock, the study appeared in 2011.

Brighter Green's research examines whether Ethiopia can industrialize its livestock sector, primarily to serve export markets, without forestalling or derailing development prospects for a population that is expected to reach 150-170 million by 2050. It also investigates whether such a path is viable when large numbers of Ethiopians already have difficulty gaining access to good soils, grazing land, and water. Food security is a huge national challenge and the effects of climate change are increasingly felt.

Brighter Green questions whether Ethiopia's expansion and intensification of its animal-agriculture sector is constraining its chances of coping effectively with drought and erratic weather. Africa will be among the most affected by global warming, even though it has contributed almost nothing to the problem. Africa's greenhouse gas emissions constitute less than 5 percent of the world's total, and Ethiopia's contribution is less than one-tenth of one percent.

Brighter Green recommends that the Ethiopian government adopt a long-term plan for achieving food security that emphasizes nutritious and sustainably produced foods for human consumption, reassess its heavy reliance on livestock, and end policies that encourage further industrialization of this sector, while working to expand domestic capacity to produce vegetables, fruits, pulses, and cereals for Ethiopians.

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