Breeding cows in a zero-grazing system can be a dual environmental solution

    | August 26, 2013

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    One of this week’s stories talks about conflicts between herders and farmers. Conflicts such as these are sometimes driven by the changing climate, as drought compels herders to seek out new food sources.

    Our script of the week touches on the subject of raising livestock in a world affected by climate change. It is set in Rwanda, a country where cattle are at the centre of social and cultural life.

    Land is becoming more expensive in Rwanda, making it harder to practice traditional, extensive ways of farming which require a lot of land. In response, a new government policy is promoting intensive farming. Livestock experts say the policy is not only a response to land management, but also to global warming. The policy was established after research showed that large livestock herds are a major producer of methane, a greenhouse gas.

    Given the importance of traditional breeds in Rwanda, and farmers’ misconceptions about hybrid breeds, some farmers believe cows do not produce methane. “It is impossible, the cow did nothing wrong,” they say.

    This script will help farmers understand that cattle do contribute to global warming and climate change. It will also help farmers understand that intensive farming with improved cattle breeds is a good way to address climate change as well as tackle overgrazing.