The sustainability of the pig and poultry industries in Santa Catarina, Brazil: a framework for change

Spies, Airton (2003). The sustainability of the pig and poultry industries in Santa Catarina, Brazil: a framework for change PhD Thesis, Natural and Rural Systems Management, University of Queensland.

       
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Author Spies, Airton
Thesis Title The sustainability of the pig and poultry industries in Santa Catarina, Brazil: a framework for change
School, Centre or Institute Natural and Rural Systems Management
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2003
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr. Donald Cameron
Abstract/Summary This study begins with a review of the concept of sustainability and sustainability indicators in the context of the pig and poultry industries in Santa Catarina State (SC), in Southern Brazil, and proposes an approach to the development of sustainability indicators for these industries. A review of the background and current situation of the pig and poultry industries in SC revealed that they are well organised into vertically integrated production systems and are regarded as being very competitive in world markets from technical and economic points of view. In 2002, SC produced 24% of total pork and 20% of total chicken production in Brazil in 2002, but this State has an area of only 95,000 km2, which amounts to just 1.1% of the country. SC also contributed 66% of pork exports and 54% of poultry exports from Brazil in 2002. So far the pig and poultry industries in SC have developed successfully, but recent changes towards more intensive production methods have resulted in much concern being expressed by the community, as the environmental impact of waste produced in the region has increased. The review of literature showed that in order to be sustainable, the pig and poultry industries in SC should acknowledge the concept of the “triple bottom line” and the principles of ecologically sustainable development. These include (i) biophysical or environmental sustainability, (ii) economic viability and (iii) social sustainability as criteria to guide industry development. The sustainability of the pig and poultry industries is influenced by local, regional, national and global factors which operate on several scales, and which in turn, indicate the need to use a multi-dimensional approach, combining environmental, economic, and social attributes. This study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and was completed in four phases. In the first phase, an electronic survey of 205 stakeholders (complemented by 60 interviews with farmers) was undertaken to identify their views and perceptions of what sustainability meant to them. The survey was also designed to obtain stakeholders’ views on a suggested list of sustainability indicators. In Phase 2, the findings of the e-survey were discussed with panels of key industry stakeholders in 4 focus group discussions with of 47 participants to develop the list of indicators. In the third phase, a streamlined Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study was conducted, to quantify the flows of materials, energy and of natural resource uses and to assess environmental impact. Finally, in Phase 4, stakeholder feedback was sought in 9 meetings to discuss and refine preliminary results and conclusions from the previous three phases of work. In the LCA the environmental burdens produced by typical intensive pig and poultry production systems were quantified and the contribution to each of nine selected environmental effects was estimated. The functional units (FU) were 1 tonne of live weight (LW) of pigs and 1 tonne of LW of chickens delivered to the gate of the abattoir. The boundaries of the systems analysed included the processes of producing fertilisers, feed products (maize and soybeans), energy, fuel, pesticides, production of rations, production of pigs and chickens and transportation required during all stages until the pigs and chickens are delivered to the abattoir. Data were collected from a variety of sources, including pig and poultry industry operators, research institutions, and agribusiness analysts from SC, as well as publicly available databases. Identified environmental hotspots in pig production were greenhouse gas emissions, acidification, and eutrophication, particularly from ration production and waste management. Environmental hotspots for poultry production reflect the high use of energy and pesticides, particularly associated with ration production from soybeans. The study concluded that although economic performance is competitive in world markets, most producers were operating outside the boundaries of sustainability because of inadequate waste management and excessive waste produced in a small geographical area, beyond the assimilation capacity of the local environment. This also causes other environmental effects (such as offensive odours, and increased numbers of blackflies, and houseflies), which were not quantified in the LCA study, but which were regarded as very important issues by stakeholders in the survey and focus group discussions. While comparing the overall environmental impact of producing 1 FU of pigs and poultry, this study concluded that under current production systems, pigs cause 68% greater impact than chickens. The key indicators proposed to assess the sustainability of the pig and poultry industries in SC were grouped into physical or environmental, economic, and social indicators. For physical and environmental indicators, monitoring the natural resource condition is the key indicator and requires measurement of attributes such as manure load per area of land and nutrient balance (P and K), soil condition, water use and water quality, agricultural plant species diversity, impact on native vegetation, and chemical residues in products. Among the economic indicators, long-term real net farm income and the industries’ overall competitiveness in national and international markets are key indicators. Attributes to measure these indicators are real net farm income, cost of production, farmer’s terms of trade, total factor productivity, and disposable income per farm household. Other farm level technical indicators which influence the economic outcome, such as feed conversion and productivity indices for pigs and poultry, also need to be monitored. For social indicators, the age structure and gender balance of the agricultural workforce, farmers’ managerial skills and level of training, as well as access to basic services, such as health, education, communications, and electricity in rural communities, are the key sustainability indicators. This study made four main contributions to knowledge: (a) the views and perceptions about sustainability among pig and poultry stakeholders were identified; (b) the environmental impacts of pig and poultry production were quantified and compared; (c) a set of key sustainability indicators for the pig and poultry industries was developed and validated; and (d) a framework for change towards sustainability and policy guidelines were suggested. The overall conclusion of the study is that, to be sustainable, the pig and poultry industries need to adjust their management practices, policies, and development strategies to incorporate the principles of ecologically sustainable development. Feeding strategies and methods of grain production have much influence on the key points of environmental impact, such as global warming, pesticides, and energy consumption. Waste management, however, has the greatest local impact, because of water and soil pollution and reduction in the quality of life due to offensive odours, blackflies, and houseflies. Sustainability indicators can thus assist to drive the industries to adopt improvements in the production systems to achieve better environmental performance. Although the findings of this study are confined to SC, the principles are generally applicable to other similar livestock industries in other places. The main justification for conducting this study rests on the increasing demands by the government, community and industry stakeholders for initiatives to reduce the impact of the pig and poultry production on the environment, while maintaining and enhancing its economic competitiveness in global markets and continuing to deliver important social benefits.
Keyword Sustainability indicators
agriculture
pigs
poultry
environmental impact
externalities
Life Cycle Assessment.

 
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