Climate smart pastoralism

Pastoralism - extensive livestock production in the rangelands - is one of the most sustainable food systems on the planet.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Enviroment Programme (UNEP) 2015

    Fragile drylands, predominantly rangelands, cover 40% of the earth’s surface. Many of the world’s pastoralists are found on semi-arid rangelands, including 50 million in sub-Saharan Africa. In many fragile rangelands, regenerative grazing of cattle is the only viable way of conserving fragile ecosystems and generating a livelihood.

    However, over recent decades, many pastoral communities have struggled to make a living in increasingly challenging environments. Farmers struggle to make a good living from cattle, in areas where soils and climate are barely suitable for crops, and alternatives are often destructive. The services and markets needed to rebuild sustainable cattle herds do not exist.

    The best solution is to restore traditional cattle livelihoods, based on improved productivity and widespread use of climate-smart regenerative management. Mafisa promotes sustainable climate-smart pastoralism, improving ecosystems with healthy herds and the restoration of regenerative grazing practices. Fire management prevents the harmful destruction of valuable grazing areas. These improved rangeland management practices will result in improved biodiversity and grassland cover, providing improved and secure access to grazing, and removing carbon from the atmosphere – stored in grass, roots and soil.

    Improving the productivity of cattle production reduces emissions associated with meat the milk production. The combination of animal health, reproduction and regenerative rangeland management strategies used by Mafisa have been analysed in the Zambian context by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concluding that the combination of measures can reduce unit emissions by up to 38%. It is anticipated that the aggregate effect of Mafisa’s activities will result in about 0.75 tons of carbon per hectare being removed from the atmosphere.