Sustainable livestock systems for sustainable lives

Paul Cezanne, Still Life with Bread and Eggs.

This month, in a new issue of the science journal Animal Frontiers, ILRI scientist Padmakumar Varijakshapanicker leads authorship of a paper on Sustainable livestock systems to improve human health, nutrition, and economic status.

Sustainability issues
Padmakumar and his co-authors begin their paper by making the case for a ‘holistic’ definition of ‘sustainability’, one that ‘jointly considers ecological, social, and economic dimensions of a system or intervention for long-lasting prosperity.’

Experience shows that economic development at the cost of ecology does not last; therefore, it is critical to harmonize ecology with development.

‘This also applies to livestock systems, which should be economically viable for farmers, environmentally friendly or at least neutral, and socially acceptable in order to be considered sustainable.’

The authors say that the great diversity of the world’s livestock systems must be taken into account when addressing sustainability issues.

There are different types of livestock production systems, depending on availability of resources, environmental conditions, and social and economic contexts, and they vary considerably in sustainability.

These livestock systems include the grassland-based extensive systems, intensive landless systems, and mixed farming systems among others. . . .