Agriculture, including livestock as well as crop production, makes up about a third (30%) of the global greenhouse gases (GHG) that are generated by human activity and warming our planet.
About half of these agricultural emissions are caused by deforestation and soil carbon losses; the rest is largely generated by livestock (and some artificial fertilizer use). In Africa, lack of relevant technology and infrastructure means that no reliable data yet exist on the levels of GHG emissions generated by the continent’s livestock in the form of methane and nitrous oxide. Consequently, estimates of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions based mainly on research from industrialized nations are being assigned to African countries, obscuring the real situation and hampering efforts to determine emission hotspots and actions with greatest potential to mitigate the continent’s emissions.
Scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have reported that to accurately quantify reduction in GHG emissions and subsequently develop sustainable intensification strategies, empirical data on existing (in particular smallholder) systems using a holistic, multidisciplinary systems approach is required. (Download publication here)
The Mazingira Centre is an environmental research and educational facility established by ILRI to conduct research that focuses on understanding and managing the environmental footprint of livestock. This research aims to provide accurate context-specific information on the environmental impacts, particularly on nutrient cycles and GHG emissions of current livestock production systems, to enable predictions of intensification in these systems, and opportunities to mitigate GHG emissions as well as to determine the environmental consequences of climate change adaptation.