Cleaning up assessments of livestock-environment systems in developing countries with CLEANED

Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania

Dairy cow in Tanga, Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

As a vegetarian, my occupation as a livestock scientist might come as an odd choice. But here’s the thing: Livestock science isn’t about promoting meat eating; it’s about investigating better ways of farming meat so we don’t harm the environment in the process.

‘Global projections show that rising incomes are only expected to increase the demand for meat. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing.

‘The question for me is not whether we produce or eat meat — but how we do it. And lab-grown meat, which has recently grabbed global headlines, is not the only way.

‘Some key reasons farmers keep animals, especially in developing countries, are so they can earn better incomes, have better prospects for their families, and produce manure to fertilize their farms. Eating meat regularly is often not an option. Milk, eggs and other dairy products, however, contribute toward a more nutritious diet.

‘There’s a tool that was developed to support governments, NGOs and extension workers as they guide farmers through complex decisions, so they can earn better incomes, put more food on the table and protect the environment at the same time. Called CLEANED, it gives best-bet options for making the most of limited resources in specific contexts and circumstances. . . .

‘The biggest lesson from our pilot research is that every farm is different, and farmers need to consider their own resources before taking new interventions into account. . . .

‘The tool, then, helps to throw light on recommendations and solutions. . . .’

What CLEANED helps us do is to look at the potential of a farm from different angles. That’s what being a livestock scientists is about: helping people make the best choices — including whether or not to eat meat.

‘The CLEANED tool is available here. It is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the CGIAR Research Programs on Livestock and Fish and Livestock.’

Read the whole article by Jessica Mukiri: Local context is everything: It’s how animals are produced that’s important, Medium, 14 Mar 2018.

Read a series of briefs about the development and use of the CLEANED tool.

The Comprehensive Livestock Environmental Assessment for Improved Nutrition, a Secured Environment and Sustainable Development along Livestock and Fish Value Chains (CLEANED) Excel tool is a rapid ex-ante environmental impact assessment tool that allows users to explore multiple impacts of developing livestock value chains. It models the impact of changes in the livestock production systems and value chains along several pathways on land use, productivity, economics, water impacts, greenhouse gas emissions and soil health.