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Animal Protein Virtually Irreplaceable Part of ‘Children, Young & Elderly Diet’: DG, FAO

World’s most influential food bodies like FAO also speaks about sources of protein needs (pulses & dairy produces)

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The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100, according to a report.

As a result of this growing population, consumer behaviour will also change. Now, more and more people live in cities, which unfolds more challenges in farming for middle-class people.

The demand
More and more people live in cities and with the rise of the middle-class' demand for food, which includes meat, dairy and egg products, is growing fast. How can we make livestock farming more productive to feed the world’s rising population, while protecting our climate and diminishing resources, like soil and water? And how can we fulfil the consumer desire for high animal welfare standards? These were the issues debated by over 2,000 representatives of politics, science and society at ten-panel discussions, two high-level panels and a business panel at the 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin.

Livelihood for 1.3 billion people
Speaking at the opening event, Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), said ‘animal farming ensures a livelihood for 1.3 billion people worldwide. At the same time, production systems and consumer habits vary considerably.’ Whereas Europeans on average consume more than 70 kilos of meat per head annually, Africans consume barely eight kilos. Smith cautioned against demonising livestock farming and the consumption of animal products, as was often the case in the northern hemisphere: “Increasing demand for meat is a way of ensuring an income and employment in the southern hemisphere“, Smith said.

At the high-level panel of the European Commission, Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, noted how important animal proteins were for the human diet. Many inhabitants of poorer countries have a low protein intake. Children, young people and the elderly in particularly needed animal proteins, which were an essential and virtually irreplaceable part of their diet. Furthermore, livestock ensured the livelihoods of the very poorest around the world. The situation was particularly uncertain for nomadic cattle breeders in the Sahel region. Climate change and a lack of rainfall had caused pastures to dry up, and insects which thrived in warm climates were causing devastating animal diseases. Whenever the owners lost their herds and their livelihoods their only escape was to migrate, often to neighbouring cities and across the Mediterranean to Europe. Appealing to the other members he said, “We must help the poorest of the poor to ensure their survival at home".

Environmental Challenge 
As per an earlier revelation by world wildlife fund (WWF) it is undisputed that livestock farming has a big impact on the environment. It is responsible for around 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Blairo Maggi, the Brazilian minister of agriculture addressed the issue and said: “Our national research institute has shown that we can produce meat without affecting our climate”. In that context, the use of modern technology for breeding, feeding and managing pastures and an intelligent combination of arable farming, forestry management and livestock farming was essential.

All panel members agreed that there were no wholesale solutions for guaranteeing efficient and responsible livestock farming. Thus, farming methods which focused on animal welfare did not necessarily lead to fewer greenhouse gases, said EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. “We must provide farmers with proper incentives. If the amounts paid tally with the environmental and climate targets then we can get the farmers on board“, said Hogan.

Ministers call for sustainable and efficient livestock farming

The outstanding political event over the three days was the 10th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference, the largest of its kind in the world. Agriculture ministers from 69 countries, representatives of the EU Commission and numerous international organisations had accepted the invitation of Federal Minister of Agriculture Schmidt to come to Berlin. Following previous rounds of discussion, their task was to lay down parameters for sustainable and efficient livestock farming.

In their final statement, the government representatives called upon their counterparts and all international organisations to take action, specifically to:

• guarantee global food security, including to ensure more efficient and sustainable production and better access to food;
• take steps to improve the livelihoods of livestock farmers, by facilitating a more important role in the supply chain and working conditions in compliance with the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO);
• protect our climate, environment and resources, by promoting resource-efficient agricultural systems and supporting a knowledge exchange with the aim of reducing livestock farming emissions.
• improve animal health and welfare, including by facilitating better access to veterinary advice and services. The ministers unanimously called for measures to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms and the unnecessary fattening of livestock.

Tags assigned to this article:
fao dairy products agriculture