Looking ahead: Elements of future strategies
Previous section Strategies for livestock production systems
The challenge for policy makers and environmental and livestock specialists is to fully capture the contribution of livestock in development that will satisfy current and future human needs while maintaining the natural resource base. There is no resource-compromising aspect of animal protein production that cannot be resolved. The technologies exist but their successful adoption is often constrained by the difficulty in creating the right political and economic conditions in which environmentally friendly livestock production can take place. These difficulties stem from different interest spheres and complex links between livestock, the economy and society. Decision-makers in national governments, NGOs, at farming and community levels and in international and donor organizations, are the actors who must put the policy and technology elements to work within the context of consistent strategies. With government support and willingness to act, there are sufficient mechanisms to keep adverse effects of livestock production within tolerable limits and to enhance the net contribution to human welfare.
The need for informed decision-making
There is ample evidence that current decision-making regarding the role of livestock in sustainable agriculture is hampered by a lack of information and awareness of the type, extent and causes of livestock's current negative and positive impacts on the environment and of what may be expected of any change of policy or action. The complexity of livestock's interaction with other sectors imposes a formidable task at any level of decision-making. Better information on which to base decision-making is therefore urgently required. Production systems and ecosystems need to be documented, with emphasis on current hot spots, future environmental hazards, and potential positive contributions. For that, there is a need to:
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