In a report produced by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2006 entitled the “livestock long shadow” it was remarked that farming livestock and processing cattle generated 18% of green house gases in to the atmosphere and just 13% came from cars, trucks and other transportations. These livestock transgressions include deforestation of grazing land, the pollution of air and ground water from animal waste and the excessive use of water to raise grains for feed and its threat on diversity.
Livestock and the worlds rising demand for meat contributed in many ways to global warming and climate change and the general deterioration of the environment. Yet the report also highlighted that producing livestock had enormous economic importance to man and the environment. The report also earmarked that animal farming beside being big business at the industrial level was also a great source of income and a means of survival for most needy farm families world wide for whom this livestock is their only source of livelihood.
Raising animals is central to eradicating poverty in most communities around the world. In Cameroon some small scale farmers had distinguished themselves by striving to reverse these carbon foot print and Hoof print with sustainable farming methods and natural resources management skills.
At the Babanki community some 23KM from Bamenda the capital of the North West Region of Cameroon Wih Linus and His family are model livestock farmers who went in to livestock farming out of passion in the dark days of their lives. These struggling farmers faced not only the daily blunders of raising livestock in free range grazing areas but the scarcity of land was their biggest worry. “We really wanted help” Linus said. This livestock was source of his family income for emergency spending and food. According to Linus his children could not go to school. The use of his small grazing land intensively with less time for it to recover from over grazing and food crop cultivation contributed severely to desertification and erosion. “Our food crops were not enough and our land was getting drier every day” Linus Recalled.
In 2008 Linus and other community members began working in cooperation to find solutions to their needs. Not Long a development organization was helping them know basic principles of integrated livestock management, pasture development, care for the earth and animals as well as composting of farm fields to improve soil quality. Apart from shifting attention from depleted communal farm lands, these small group of farmers began developing pasture and grass next to their homes. Before long they had constructed staples and pens to keep their animals. “We sold our big herd and decided to raise a few animals in confinement” One of the farmers said. This idea began protecting the pasture and grazing land. “This zero grazing began improving our land “ Abain Godlove a farmers in the project said. By collecting manure for fertilizer in their farm fields their yields also improved. Well planed movement of the herd from field to field helped also to keep the land healthy and improved the utilization of grass varieties.
By learning to make good use of the earth natural resources these small scale model farmers are leading a pilot project on domestic Bio gas construction. This idea is helping them to trim utility bills and avoid cutting trees for fuel wood. Through this small family seize Bio Gas units these needy farm families are reaping double dividends. An almost free renewable green energy and a by- product slurry a very rich crop fertilizer. Today Linus and his common initiative group have used their livestock operations not only to improve their nutrition and income but care for their land and water. They follow sustainable practices like using animal manure for fertilizer, planting trees on pasture land to protect water sources, quality but also erosion and desertification. In response to the changing climate these small scale farmer are doing the best they can to control their declining natural resources. “We know that the health of our herd depended on the health of our environment”. Linus said. These group of farmers prized themselves to the highest levels of care for the land and meager resources.
Because meat processing and distribution cause more carbon pollution with methane gas improving animal diet in an integrated livestock management system has also improved their digestion breaking down significantly on the amount of methane release during processing and transportation. In Cameroon small scale farmers like Linus with limited farming space are making a great livelihood from their initiatives and a great food supply for their communities. These are just daring examples of small poor farmers that have withstood the impact of the changing climate to benefit their lives and communities.