Livestock farms need more efficient resource use: U.N.

MILAN Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:49am GMT

Sheep are displayed for sale at a livestock market in Amman November 5, 2011. REUTERS /Muhammad Hamed

Sheep are displayed for sale at a livestock market in Amman November 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters /Muhammad Hamed

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MILAN (Reuters) - Livestock farms should use natural resources more efficiently to meet ever-growing demand for meat and dairy products in a way friendly to the environment, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday.

Global meat consumption is projected to rise 73 percent by 2050, while dairy demand is expected to grow by 58 percent from current levels, driven by growing population and incomes in developing countries, the FAO said in its World Livestock 2011 report.

"It is hard to envisage meeting projected demand by keeping twice as many poultry, 80 percent more small ruminants, 50 percent more cattle and 40 percent more pigs, using the same level of natural resources as currently," the report said.

Production increases should instead come from improving efficiency of livestock systems in converting natural resources into food and from reducing waste, said the report published on FAO's website (www.fao.org).

The world needs to boost output of cereals by 1 billion tons and produce 200 million extra tons of livestock products a year by 2050 to feed a population projected to rise to 9 billion from about 7 billion now, the United Nations estimates.

Large-scale, intensive animal-rearing farms, which will be the main drivers of increasing livestock output, should also reduce pollution generated from waste and greenhouse gases, cut the use of water and grain needed to produce livestock protein and recycle agro-industrial byproducts, the report said.

The farms should also be able to respond to climate-change challenges such as drought and water shortages, as well as to fight off animal diseases, some of which may threaten human health, the report said.

Livestock output has expanded rapidly in east and southeast Asia and in Latin America, but growth in sub-Saharan Africa has remained slow, leaving poor and vulnerable communities without sufficient animal protein supplies, the report said.

Average consumption of livestock protein in Africa is less than a quarter of that in the Americas, Europe and Oceania and represents just 17 percent of the recommended consumption level for all proteins, the report said.

By contrast, consumption of livestock protein in the Americas, Europe and Oceania in 2005 was between 78 and 98 percent of the total protein requirement, suggesting that livestock products are being over-consumed, the FAO said.

Livestock products supply 12.9 percent of calories consumed worldwide and 20.3 percent in developed countries, while their contribution to protein consumption is estimated at 27.9 percent worldwide and 47.8 percent in developed countries, it said.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova, editing by Jane Baird)

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