The livestock sector in China has developed rapidly over the past two decades and has dominated the “livestock revolution” in terms of its aggregate size and growth rate.
Total meat production quadrupled over the last twenty years. There have also been significant changes in livestock farm structure, and in the geographical distribution and composition of livestock commodities.
The intensification of livestock production in China started in the late 1980s and has advanced progressively ever since. This process has been fuelled both by the rapidly rising demand for meat and other livestock products, and by the emergence and growth of the modern feed industry and other technical advances.
Along with the rapidly growing livestock industry development, the environmental problems are becoming more and more prominent in China, which bears the similarities with other rapidly growing economies. How to face the challenge of the deteriorating environment and resources and make a sustainable economic development is the main concern of Chinese policy makers and stakeholders.
LEAD’s work in China has thus largely focused on addressing the environmental problems related to rapid expansion of the livestock sector particularly the animal waste problem related to high animal concentrations. And in so doing, the initiative has focused on:
Testing of novel concepts and supporting the uptake of these approaches through the development of pilot projects targeting specific issues.
Development of specific tools to facilitate decision-making on livestock-environment issues.
Communication and advocacy with the aim of improving the understanding of livestock-environment interactions and support mainstreaming of livestock and environment issues in national development action plans.
The main objective of the Chinese Platform was intended to improve communication and enhance the relevance of research and development issues regarding livestock-environment interactions, by establishing the Virtual Center for Research and Development in Livestock Environment Interaction.
The Chinese Platform focused on two thematic areas:
animal waste problems in areas of high animal concentrations
overgrazing and land degradation
In China, the Livestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative has collaborated with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture’s Research Centre for Rural Economy (RCRE) and the Nanjing University.
Using information and communication technologies to reach its audience, the Platform provided information on 4 specific areas namely “ Intensive Livestock Development and Environment”, “Farmer’s Ecological Homestead Construction and Environment”, “Pasture Grazing Development and Environment”, and “Decision-support System for the Livestock Development and Environment”.
In addition, the Platform facilitated the establishment of networks and facilitation of information exchange between experts via establishment of expert roster and consultations; conducted a number of workshops and seminars, supported the dissemination of information through e-conferences and e-newsletters.