Livestock sustainability. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) began the year by intensifying their advocacy in the region for stronger commitments on climate change and the development of sustainable productive activities. This advocacy has paid off so far in Uruguay where this month the executive branch signed agreements with the IDB and FAO to ratify government commitments and adopt climate-smart practices in the livestock sector. The Uruguayan measures will seek to mitigate the effects of climate change by increasing production levels and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases including methane (CH4).
FAO will provide technical assistance in the implementation of projects to combat climate change in order to achieve, at a minimum, a reversal of land degradation in 35,000 hectares of grassland. The organization argues that the unsustainable management of cattle production is a leading cause of this phenomenon, arguing that it generates losses of soil organic matter and the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Support will also take the form of promoting the use of climate-smart practices in the livestock sector. As a result, meat production could be increased without this leading to increased methane emissions. Beef production is Uruguay’s main economic activity. In 2011, livestock farming accounted for 14.9 million hectares of the country’s 16.4 million hectares of privately owned land.
The IDB, for its part, will finance the Rural Productive Development Program II. This Program seeks to improve the sustainability of agricultural producers through, among other issues, the adoption of climate-smart technologies. The IDB will invest in plans proposed by small, medium and family producers that improve productivity and promote the use of these technologies.
These approaches are intended to bring about a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector. Livestock activities are responsible for 93% of the total emissions of gases produced by the agricultural sector.
In 2019, the IDB and FAO are expected to promote agreements in the rest of the region that are similar to those signed with the government of Uruguay. The rationale for such agreements is that one of Latin America’s principal economic activities be carried out with due protection of the environment. The focus of action is on the implementation of practices that encourage cattle breeding without associated soil damage and increases in methane emission.