The joint research unit, “Tropical and Mediterranean Animal Production Systems” (Systèmes d’élevage méditerranéens et tropicaux, SELMET) works on animal production agro-ecosystems in warm climates, in normal and harsh conditions. The extreme conditions under which some of these systems function challenge the limits of ecological intensification.
The context of global animal production
Animal production plays a major role in the agricultural sectors and economies of many countries. When all of the species are considered together, there are around 19 billion farm animals, of which about 70% are held by livestock farmers from countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Animal husbandry uses approximately 4 billion hectares of grassland, of which 3.4 billion hectares are devoted to pastoralism. The livestock sector furnishes one third of proteins for human consumption and represents 40% of the gross world agricultural production value. In developing countries, animals contribute to the survival of 800 million poor people. Farm animals mobilize the labour of 1.3 billion people worldwide.
Animal husbandry activities are severely affected today by climate change, which effects animal migrations and raises pressure on resources. They also are criticised for having suspected and confirmed negative effects, such as water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, on the environment. Animal production systems consequently are seeking to reduce their negative environmental effects while demonstrating their capacity to produce positive ecosystem services.
Research at SELMET addresses these challenges by contributing to the development of more productive and environmentally friendly animal production systems in tropical and Mediterranean agro-ecosystems.
The unit associates researchers from CIRAD, INRA and Montpelier SupAgro. SELMET works with partners from sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Most projects also are conducted in partnership with other French and European research institutes and universities, as well as with international research centres.
The unit is overseen by the following institutions:
- INRA – Animal Physiology and Livestock Production Systems (Physiologie animale et systèmes d'élevage, PHASE)
- INRA – Science for Action and Development (Département Sciences pour l'action et le développement, Sad)
- CIRAD – Environment and Society (Département Environnements et sociétés, ES)
- CIRAD – Production and Transforming Systems Performance (Département Performances des systèmes de production et de transformation tropicaux, Persyst)
- Montpellier SupAgro