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FAO engages industry at World Meat Congress


At the end of the three days of meetings, the Secretariat of the International Meat Congress signaled an interest in becoming an industry partner in the Partnership on the Environmental Benchmarking of Livestock Supply Chains, a consultative process coordinated by FAO, as a voice of industry representing the commercial beef, lamb and veal businesses. The initiative engages governments, industry, research institutions, international organizations and farmers, from large-scale operations to the smallholder farmer making a living from a few livestock animals.

FAO has been supporting innovation in the livestock sector, recognizing that livestock animals do contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, livestock raising provides for the food security and the daily incomes of 1 billion poor people worldwide, and it is often the sole source of protein for vulnerable communities. Livestock are also considered a bank on four legs: in lean times or for unexpected expenses, such as medical care or a wedding, impoverished families can gain access to cash by selling the animals they raise.

FAO and partners involved in the initiative are engaged in establishing reliable measurements of the impacts of livestock on the environment. They are also engaged in analyzing how change in production practices,  as for example innovations in feed or carbon sequestration, can improve the environmental performance of supply chains.

Amid the challenges and opportunities presented by the need to adapt the livestock sector to meet rising demand for animal-based protein, the smallholder farmer must not be marginalized in the process, FAO has emphasized.

By 2050, there will be one-third more people to feed globally while using the same resources available today, if not fewer. With a population that will top 9 billion from just under 7 billion people today, FAO recognizes that simply intensifying or expanding production systems poses serious threats to human health, environmental health and food security, especially while having to face the challenges of having to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Demand for meat is expected to surge by 74 percent by 2050, spurred by population growth and rising incomes, both mainly in the developing world.

During a side-event at the World Meat Congress, the FAO underlined the very real case scenario illustrated by the spread of African swine fever. African swine fever in recent years has established a solid foothold in the Russian Federation and the Caucasus countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, where it is proving particularly difficult to eliminate the disease. In a global context of increasing animal production and trade in animals and animal products, an outbreak of African swine fever would be devastating if it were to reach areas where pig populations become quite dense, such as in western Europe and South East Asia, which are most at risk of the disease’s spread.

The Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department was represented by the department’s head, Assistant Director-General Modibo Traoré, as well as Pierre Gerber, who presented the Partnership on the Environmental Benchmarking of Livestock Supply Chains and the Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Livestock Sector Development, a key policy initiative of the Animal Production and Health Division. Klaas Dietze presented the global overview of African swine fever and the risks it poses to global pork production.