June 29, 2021.Cattle ranching is one of the main economic activities in Honduras, generating around 400,000 jobs annually, which represents approximately 33% of employment in the agricultural sector (1.2 million people) and 10% of total national employment (BCH, 2018). However, livestock farming in the country is characterized by extensive production systems, with high impact on the environment and low productivity, where about 100,000 farms occupy about 3 million hectares of pasture, with a cattle population of about 1.5 million head (INE 2008).
However, in recent days the Honduran livestock sector has taken an important step in the transformation of the sector towards a sustainable and low-carbon economy, since Ministerial Agreement N. SAG-043-2021 created the National Sustainable Livestock Platform, as a governance and coordination structure between public and private institutions linked to the livestock sector, in order to cause strategic decisions and state policies, based on principles and technical and scientific criteria, to develop a social, economic and environmentally sustainable livestock farming in the country.
This step has been possible thanks to the political will of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG, its Spanish acronym) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MiAmbiente), with the technical support of CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and financed at the time by MiAmbiente's Productive Landscapes project. This project generated numerous technical and scientific inputs that currently support this initiative.
In addition, this initiative has the decisive support of actors such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Honduras, the National Federation of Farmers and Ranchers of Honduras (FENAGH, its Spanish acronym), the Honduran Chamber of Milk (CAHLE, its Spanish acronym), the Federation of Ranchers and Farmers of Southern Honduras (FEGASURH, its Spanish acronym), Zamorano, the National University of Agriculture (UNAG, its Spanish acronym), among others.
Edwin García, researcher at CATIE's Livestock and Environmental Management Unit, indicated that this has been a long process in which multiple stakeholders from different sectors linked to livestock farming in the country have participated, and with whom they have been working together to reach this point. "This space for articulation will allow us to build and promote a national strategy to develop sustainable livestock farming in the country, with all that this implies. The vision of the platform is to be a space for inclusive and participatory consultation, which functions as a management and strategic orientation table," said García.
This group of institutions, together with other key stakeholders that have joined, are working together and are preparing to promote other important actions for the transformation of the sector, such as the livestock NAMA, an integrated program that is expected to be implemented in the country between 2022 and 2026 and is being led by SAG and MiAmbiente, also with the technical support of CATIE.
Livestock and Environmental Management Unit
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