Potential consequences of climate change and mitigation options in livestock production in Zimbabwe
Keywords:Climate change;Mitigation options;Livestock production;Zimbabwe
This is a review paper that looks at the potential consequences of climate change and mitigation options in livestock production in Zimbabwe. The local environmental policy objectives highlights related to climate change cite the promotion of sustainable use of natural resources with emphasis on satisfying basic needs, improving people’s standard of living, enhancing food security and reducing poverty as the major issues. These efforts are being impacted by climate change through livestock production which has not been spared due to the natural disasters and environmental challenges likely to affect all sectors of the country and all layers of the population indiscriminately. In order to be able to adequately address climate change in a sustainable development context, there is need for the country to carry out vulnerability and adaptation assessments. Research and training of experts to carry out vulnerability and adaptation assessments on livestock production is crucial in order for the country to develop climate change adaptation measures. Societies are dynamic and they develop all possible adaptive measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Due to the changing climatic conditions Zimbabwe has already witnessed much severe climatic induced vulnerability such as decline in rainfall amounts and intensity, reduced length of rain season and increasing warm and occasionally very hot conditions. Livestock production systems will need to adapt to higher ambient temperatures, lower nutritional value of feed resources and new diseases and parasites occurrence. It can be seen that the present livestock production system based on rangeland grazing husbandry systems, ecological destruction through climatic variability and overgrazing due to high stocking rates in areas where feed and water has been compromised due to high temperatures caused by climate change does not augur well for future livestock productivity. The understanding of climate change variables and their impacts is the first step in climate change research and prerequisite for defining appropriate adaptive responses by livestock farmers. Increasingly local strategies for livestock production must consider the impact of climate change. Improved livestock production supporting economic development should be compatible with the goals of curbing the effects of climate change. Livestock production priorities should be directed towards promoting indigenous livestock genetic resources by providing comprehensive livestock research support services on the impact of climate change. Livestock play an important role in farming systems, as they offer opportunities for risk coping, farm diversification and intensification, and provide significant livelihood benefits. The review paper therefore, concludes that the effectiveness of biophysical responses of livestock production to specific environmental challenges those are anticipated as a result of climate change, and then at the range of adaptive measures that might be taken by livestock producers to ameliorate their effects will be the prerequisite for defining appropriate societal responses.
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