Environment

Why it is important to ensure sustainability in livestock

Livestock products have been a crucial part of the human diet from their hunting days to modern life. The animal husbandry sector is the most rapidly growing sub-sectors in the agricultural field. It employs and supports more than 1.3 billion and 4 billion people globally.

Sustainable Consumption and Production (known as SCP) is about doing more and better with less. It’s also about divorcing economic growth from environmental damage, improving resource efficiency, and encouraging people to live more sustainably.

Economics of Livestock Production

With rapidly growing economies all over the world, it has been observed that the most economic growth has been in the developing countries in comparison to developed nations. There is a proportional relationship between income and meat consumption, which explains the meat consumption growth rate. In addition, the rising population has also substantially added to the increased demand for meat per capita. The meat consumption in developing countries is increasing bi-fold and is expected to meet, if not cross, the demands for the same in the developed countries. Another reason for the increased popularity and consumption of meat is related to lower food prices of these products in the United States of America and Europe. This has been attributed to population growth, urbanisation and income growth and has since been coined the ‘livestock revolution’.

Scarcity of land and water

Most of the world’s land was present as forests and grasslands until a few centuries ago. Now, 50% of the total available land is used for some form of agricultural practice. Every year, 13 billion hectares of forest are destroyed when pastures or crops are converted for food and livestock feed crop cultivation.  More than two-thirds of the freshwater supply is used in agriculture in some way or the other. Similarly, about one-fourth of the total energy consumption is towards agriculture. Eutrophication of water bodies is a major concern from the water used for livestock rearing.

Footprints of Globalisation

Since the world opened its border for food trades, there has been no looking back. All kinds of foods are available in every corner of the world, courtesy of globalisation. But how sustainable is it? Seasonal foods are now available throughout the calendar year, Irish beef is consumed all over the world. The carbon footprint left of these services and facilities is enormous. The most used medium for travel for these relishes is via water. Irrespective of what the medium is, the energy consumed and GHG emissions are fifty times more when transporting food through the air than the sea.

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