Livestock production in Mexico holds great potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
Mexico City, June 1, 2021 (IICA). A group of experts convoked by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the FAO in Mexico agreed that livestock production is essential for food security. This is because it constitutes the livelihood and wealth of a vast portion of the rural families of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), hence the importance of promoting its sustainability, productivity and competitiveness and carrying out actions to improve its impact on the climate of the region.
At the meeting “Livestock farming, an opportunity to boost climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean”, a side event of the LAC Climate Week (organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), specialists shared their vision on how sustainable livestock represents a great opportunity to strengthen climate action in LAC.
One of them was Adrián Vega, deputy director of Studies on Flora and Soils for Livestock Purposes at the General Livestock Division of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) of Mexico, who explained that 56% of the country's surface was dedicated to extensive livestock farming, in addition to the fact that the nation ranks seventh worldwide in the production of animal protein and produces 82.1% of the food of animal origin consumed internally.
The activity, he said, generates about 10% of the country's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 68% of the emissions of the agricultural sector.
"We are faced with a significant opportunity to reduce emissions; this is why SADER and IICA, together with other partners, are promoting the transition from conventional to sustainable extensive cattle farming" Vega commented.
This transition will be carried out through the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action for Sustainable Livestock and Low Emissions in Pasture Conditions in Mexico (NAMA GS+Mexico), in keeping with the objective established by the Paris Agreement of maintaining global warming at 1.5°C and by complying with nationally determined contributions (NDCs), added the specialist.
The NAMA GS+Mexico initiative seeks to reduce GHG emissions by 28% and contribute to increasing the productivity and competitiveness of the livestock sector by applying a value chain approach and principles of sustainability, inclusion, capacity for adaptation to climate change, preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and the generation of ecosystem goods and services.
The event offered an opportunity for reflection and called for climate action in preparation for the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
José Miguel Cordero, Vice Minister of Extension and Training of the Dominican Republic, Walter Oyhantcabal, an expert in climate change and bioeconomy from Uruguay, and Muhammad Ibrahim, Director General of the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), also participated in the event, which was moderated by Kelly Witkowski, manager of the IICA Climate Change and Natural Resources Program.
Witkowski noted that several LAC countries have invested in reducing emissions from their livestock systems, thus generating a significant impact on the climate and greater efficiency and productivity, as well as strengthening conservation and recovery of ecosystems, achieving improvements in soil and livestock health, and increasing the income of producers.
"We need to boost financing and technical assistance so that more producers can apply best practices," she pointed out.
The panelists also shared information and experiences on sustainable and low-emission livestock systems in LAC and concluded that the livestock sector is part of the solution to the challenges of sustainability and climate change. They also highlighted the environmental, social and economic benefits derived from the adoption of practices and technologies that reduce GHG emissions and increase productivity and resilience, thereby contributing to food security and economic development.
Among the main practices mentioned were conservation and improvement of vegetation, grazing systems (silvopastoral systems, deferred grazing, high intensity and low frequency, seasonal, among other systems), animal load adjustments, soil conservation and water storage, generation of renewable energy, animal feeding, adaptation actions, improvement of reproductive efficiency, genetic selection and breeding, sanitary management, and actions to improve profitability and competitiveness.
LAC’s Climate Week was the backdrop for the presentation of a number of proposals for post-COVID economic recovery and strategies to increase resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to face the climate crisis.
Institutional Communication Division.