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Improving animal welfare in agricultural development can make a significant contribution towards the achievement of food security; and the production of safe, healthy, nutritious food. Higher-welfare systems are needed in order to safeguard and develop local production/consumption systems and to ensure future sustainability, food safety, and human health. The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition mentions the importance of animal welfare in its 2016 report stating that “Animal welfare is linked to economic development and the education, cultural practices, religious beliefs and knowledge of farmers. Improving animal welfare can contribute to both resilience and resource efficiency.”[viii]
For these reasons, World Animal Net has for several years been engaged with a multi-stakeholder partnership along with the World Bank, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). This project is called the “Wageningen process”, and its goal is to develop “Good Practices for Animal Welfare in Development”. These will support the broader development and cooperation community in assisting Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) with the effective implementation of good animal welfare practices for the sustainable development of the agricultural sector. The project provides practical guidance and promotes the implementation of good animal welfare practices in agricultural development activities. Currently, guidelines for implementing good animal welfare practices for pigs are nearing completion. Work is slated to begin in September 2019 on a set of guidelines for working equine welfare and a set of guidelines for broiler chicken welfare.
The introduction of industrial animal agriculture systems in developing countries can result in increased food insecurity. This is because such systems are concentrated in the hands of a small number of major commercial interests, which mainly produce for more lucrative export and urban markets. They compete unfairly with local, small-scale producers and often put them out of business or integrate them as contract producers—incrementally eliminating sustainable, local production. They are also import and technology dependent, which can increase insecurity, especially due to factors such as: lack of plant maintenance, technical expertise and equipment supplies (especially in cases where there is lack of expertise and experience with modern systems and technologies, and where there is not a culture or tradition of regular maintenance); insecure power supplies; and volatile global trade/market and currency fluctuations.
Industrial animal production systems decouple animals from the land by relying on feed inputs like grains and soy, also grown intensively and which could otherwise be used to directly feed humans. According to the World Economic Forum[ix], this means that up to 20% of calories produced per person today are lost to feeding animals. More people could be fed, using less land, by reducing the amount of grain fed to animals rather than humans. The sheer scale of the losses entailed in feeding cereals to animals means that this practice is increasingly being recognized as undermining food security. The UN FAO states that further use of cereals as animal feed could threaten food security by reducing the grain available for human consumption[x].
Furthermore, these close-confinement animal systems and crop monocultures are particularly vulnerable to disease and accidents, increasing food insecurity and health risks. Various pharmaceutical and chemical inputs are used, including antibiotics, to keep such systems functional in the short-term, but these have detrimental impacts over the longer term (in terms of sustainable food security; as well as health, environment and animal welfare).
Animals only contribute to food security when they are converting materials that people cannot consume – such as grass, crop residues, and unavoidable food waste – into food that we can eat. This is what happens in small-scale, high welfare, agroecological production. Such systems provide local food security; and do so in a manner which replenishes and protects natural resources and the soil for the benefit of future generations.
Good animal welfare includes the use of agroecological systems, such as raising animals on extensive pastures and rangeland and integrated crop/livestock production. These systems restore the link between animals and the land, enhance sustainability and contribute to food security. One example is silvopastoral systems for cattle that, alongside pasture also provide shrubs (preferably leguminous) and trees with edible leaves and shoots. Such systems do not need synthetic fertilizers, produce more biomass than conventional pasture and hence result in increased meat and milk production.[xi]
Good animal welfare also includes improved healthcare and nutrition for the animals through better disease prevention and management, which results in increased livestock productivity and quality. This will improve smallholders’ purchasing power, making them better able to buy the food that they do not produce, further supporting food security.
World Animal Net’s joint project with the World Bank and other partners is ultimately contributing to creating a more food-secure, Zero Hunger planet and is shedding light on how animal welfare and the SDGs are inextricably linked.
[viii] HLPE. 2016. Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock? A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome.
[ix] World Economic Forum. Can eating less meat really tackle climate change?
[x] Food and Agriculture Organization. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock, Rome Italy. http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e00.htm
1- What is your understanding of Public Private Partnership in agribusiness (agri-PPPs)?
FAO has considerable experience of PPPs in agriculture. For example, see here.
PPPs can involve public entities, financial institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), agricultural companies (preferably small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs)), farmer organizations (FOs) and individual farmers.
Ideally, PPPs should seek to ensure that the projects they work on meet local development needs, and sustainability criteria (not involving detrimental social and environmental impacts).
Any PPPs should have clear Memorandums of Understanding, including criteria for engagement. Terms should be open and transparent, and clearly indicate public good criteria.
2- How useful are agri-PPPs in the Ghanaian context? Please provide examples? From your experience, what are the factors key to the successful implementation of agri-PPPs?
PPPs could be useful in the Ghanaian context, if they are well motivated, organized and respectful of local culture and development needs. Again, we stress the need for PPPs to ensure that the projects they work on meet local development needs, and sustainability criteria (not involving detrimental social, environmental and animal welfare impacts).
3- How can we protect smallholders and share risks fairly, while at the same time ensuring that the agri-PPP is attractive to private investors?
Here it should be remembered that there is a widening pool of investment opportunities, not just for commercial companies and lenders seeking to maximise profits. There are also charitable foundations and trusts, individual philanthropists, crowdfunding, seed funding, NGO funding (especially for replicable pilot projects), international development funding etc... The primary aim of development projects should be established first – using sound development and sustainability criteria – and then funding should be sought from appropriate sources. Funding sources should not be allowed to dictate the nature of projects – as often this leads to benefits for private investors/corporations, but costs for the country and local producers – for example, unfair competition, loss of local employment and livelihoods, resource use and environmental degradation (not factored into prices, externalised and paid for by countries and taxpayers).
4- Which policy changes/reforms are required to improve private investment for agribusiness in Ghana through PPPs?
Firstly, the range of investors need to be considered, and not just in terms of corporations and investment banks. Then a clear and sustainable policy environment needs to be put in place. Terms of investment need to explicitly take into account environmental, social and animal welfare safeguards, and bring clear benefits to the country and local communities.
5- Which institutional arrangements are required to promote agri-PPPs in Ghana for effective engagement and investment of the private sector in agribusiness in Ghana?
This would be best achieved around specific projects, with clear objectives and action plans. Potential investors do not want to sign blank cheques. They need to know what they are signing up for. Similarly, governments can only ensure that projects are in the country’s development interests if given the full details of individual projects.
6- How should support for increased private investment in agribusiness through PPPs be coordinated in Ghana?
There needs to be an overarching policy framework, which protects both investors and the development and sustainability needs of the country.
7- How should progress on agri-PPPs implementation in Ghana be documented and reported?
Clear objectives and indicators are needed. These should be aligned to the SDGs and other international standards and environmental, social and animal welfare safeguards.
For example, if we take an issue such as animal welfare, then all the internationally-agreed OIE animal welfare standards should be included, as well as other internationally or regionally-agreed animal welfare criteria such as:
- World Bank – Animal Welfare Good Practice in Agricultural Development for the Successful Implementation of the 2030 Agenda (currently being developed under the Wageningen process).
Environmental, social and animal welfare impact assessment should be included. Analysis to protect against any unsustainable projects as well – including:
- SDG 1 Poverty – especially protect local jobs and livelihoods.
- SDG 2 Hunger – especially contributing to sustainable local food security/sovereignty.
- SDG 3 Health and Well-Being – especially healthy food systems, without use of chemical inputs and antibiotics, and avoiding close-confinement systems which spread disease.
- SDG 4 Education – especially local research, training and capacity building.
- SDG 5 Gender Equality – especially inclusion of support for female farmers/producers.
- SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation – especially avoiding excessive water usage and pollution of waterways and oceans.
- SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy – especially ensuring energy efficiency and use of renewables.
- SDG 8 Work and Growth – especially protecting local jobs, livelihoods and flourishing local economies.
- SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production – especially ensuring that projects produce healthy and nutritious food in ways that minimise resource use and are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
- SDG 13 Climate Action – especially ensuring that productions systems and products do not exacerbate climate change, but build in positive contributions to lowering climate impacts (for example, agro-forestry, silvo-pastoral systems etc.).
- SDG 14 Life below Water – especially protecting marine life, water quality, preventing agricultural run-offs, dead zones in the oceans, polluted waterways etc.
- SDG 15 Life on Land – especially preventing biodiversity and habitat loss.
- SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals – especially ensuring that PPPs support the achievement of the SDGs across all areas.
8- Who are the main stakeholders for effective design, implementation and reporting on agri-PPPs in Ghana?
Government, financial institutions, international development organisations, non-governmental organizations.