According to the FAO report titled “World Livestock 2011”, an expanded world population will be consuming “two-thirds more animal protein than it does today, bringing new strains to bear on the planet’s natural resources.”
The report states that populations and income growth are fueling an ongoing trend towards greater per capita consumption of animal protein in developing countries.
“Meat consumption is projected to rise nearly 73% by 2050; dairy consumption will grow 58 percent over current levels,” the FAO said.
Figures from the FAO indicates that livestock products today supply 12.9% of calories consumed worldwide — 20.3% in developed countries and its contribution to protein consumption is estimated at 27.9% worldwide and 47.8% in developed countries.
The surge in livestock production that took place over the last 40 years resulted largely from an increase in the overall number of animals being raised. But “it is hard to envisage meeting projected demand by keeping twice as many poultry, 80 percent more small ruminants, 50% more cattle and 40% more pigs, using the same level of natural resources as currently,” according to World Livestock 2011.
Rather, the report says, increases in production will need to come from improvements in the efficiency of livestock systems in converting natural resources into food and reducing waste. This will require capital investment and a supporting policy and regulatory environment, it adds.
Average consumption of livestock protein in Africa, according to the report, is less than a quarter of that in the Americas, Europe and Oceania, and represents just 17% of the recommended consumption level for all proteins.
The report notes further that much of the future demand for livestock production — particularly in the world’s burgeoning cities, where most population growth is occurring — will be met by large-scale, intensive animal-rearing operations.
But “As it stands, there are no technically or economically viable alternatives to intensive production for providing the bulk of the livestock food supply for growing cities,” the report says.
The report warns that groundwater pollution and greenhouse gas emissions pose as a challenge to make intensive production more environmentally benign.
Based on existing knowledge and technology, there are three ways to do this, according to FAO. It suggests reduction of the level of pollution generated from waste and greenhouse gases ,reduction of the input of water and grain needed for each output of livestock protein; and recycling agro-industrial by-products through livestock populations,” said the UN agency.
By Ekow Quandzie