Livestock plays an important role in Kenya’s semi-arid regions, where it is the main source of income. Milk produced is used to feed the family, while the manure is used to fertilize the soil. Livestock can also be kept as a source of draft power to help cultivate the land (Silvestri et al. 2012)/taxonomy/term/7851. However, livestock release greenhouse gas emissions, most significantly methane, and the decomposition of manure also releases nitrous oxide. Emissions from livestock account for 95% of Kenya’s agricultural emissions, excluding land use change and forestry (FAOSTAT 2016)/taxonomy/term/7862. The REGAL-Accelerated Growth (AG), a 5-year project implemented by ACDI/VOCA with funding from USAID’s Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, set out to improve competitiveness and increase economic growth in Marsabit and Isiolo counties by improving links between actors in the value chain and the enabling environment. REGAL- AG also aimed to increase livestock productivity and resilience of the communities. Herd-size management and feed quality improvements were two climate-smart practices introduced by the project.
Relationship to CSA
Farmers benefitted from higher livestock productivity, accomplished through improved herd-size management practices that increase productivity per animal, such as decreasing herd age at slaughter (Herrero et al. 2013)/taxonomy/term/7993, and feed quality improvements. Herd-size management and feed quality improvements also have significant mitigation co-benefits, as smaller herds result in lower net GHG emissions, and feed quality improvements decrease methane production and enteric fermentation.
Impacts and lessons learned
The estimated impact from reduction of herd size when scaled to full project size is a reduction in net GHG emissions (–185,952 tCO2e/year). For feed quality improvements, a conservative estimate of a 1% reduction in methane emissions from enteric fermentation is expected (Smith et al. 2007)/taxonomy/term/5244, meaning the estimated annual GHG mitigation benefit of feed quality improvements for both cattle and sheep totals –9,053 tCO2e/year.
Designers of livestock projects in the region should consider herd-size dynamics, grazing land improvements and livestock forage quality and management. It is also necessary to improve links between livestock owners and buyers, improve access to inputs, and provide more timely market information to improve livestock off-take rates.
Link to info note
Silvestri S, Bryan E, Ringler C, Herrero M, Okoba B. 2012. Climate change perception and adaptation of agro-pastoral communities in Kenya. Regional Environmental Change 12(4):791-802.http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10113-012-0293-6
Data on agro-pastoralists’ perceptions of climate change and adaptation options were collected from agro-pastoral communities in 7 rural districts of Kenya. Key adaptation strategies for livestock producers include mixing crop and livestock production, destocking, diversifying livestock feeds, changing animal breeds and moving animals to other sites. Desired adaptation options include introducing new breeds and increasing herd size. Additionally, the main barriers to adaptation identified include lack of credit or savings followed by lack of access to land and inputs. Farmers adaptation among livestock producers is also hindered by the absence of markets, particularly for the purchase of additional animal or new breeds or species.
FAOSTAT. 2016. Agriculture Total. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistics Division.http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/GT Agriculture Total contains all the emissions produced in the different agricultural emissions sub-domains (enteric fermentation, manure management, rice cultivation, synthetic fertilizers, manure applied to soils, manure left on pastures, crop residues, cultivation of organic soils, burning of crop residues, burning of savanna, energy use), providing a picture of the contribution to the total amount of GHG emissions from agriculture. GHG emissions from agriculture consist of non-CO2 gases, namely methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), produced by crop and livestock production and management activities.
Herrero M, Thornton PK, Havlik P, Rufino MC. 2013. Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: mitigation options and trade-offs. In: Climate Change Mitigation and Agriculture. London: Earthscan.http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203144510
Smith P et al. 2007. Agriculture. In: Metz B et al., (Eds.). 2007. Climate Change: Mitigation. Contribution of WG III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg3/ar4-wg3-chapter8.pdf Agricultural lands (lands used for agricultural production, consisting of cropland, managed grassland and permanent crops including agro-forestry and bio-energy crops) occupy about 40- 50% of the Earth’s land surface. Agriculture accounted for an estimated emission of 5.1 to 6.1 GtCO2-eq/yr in 2005 (10-12% of total global anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs)). A variety of options exists for mitigation of GHG emissions in agriculture. The most prominent options are improved crop and grazing land management (e.g., improved agronomic practices, nutrient use, tillage, and residue management), restoration of organic soils that are drained for crop production and restoration of degraded lands. Lower but still significant mitigation is possible with improved water and rice management; set-asides, land use change (e.g., conversion of cropland to grassland) and agro-forestry; as well as improved livestock and manure management. Many mitigation opportunities use current technologies and can be implemented immediately, but technological development will be a key driver ensuring the efficacy of additional mitigation measures in the future (high agreement, much evidence). Overall, the outlook for GHG mitigation in agriculture suggests that there is significant potential (high agreement, medium evidence). Current initiatives suggest that synergy between climate change policies, sustainable development and improvement of environmental quality will likely lead the way forward to realize the mitigation potential in this sector.