Low-emission development for Ethiopia’s dairy sector

Ethiopia’s dairy cattle sector is responsible for about 116.3 megatonnes of CO2 eq. Enteric methane represents about 87% of the total GHG emissions from dairy production.

Ethiopia is working with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reduce methane from enteric fermentation, and improve food security and livelihoods.

From this work, Ethiopia has accessed tools to identify low-cost strategies for reducing enteric methane from the dairy cattle system. CCAC supported research has found that technical interventions (like supplementing feed with leguminous shrubs, urea treated crop residue, control of trypanosomosis, and artificial insemination) would increase milk production by 62 to 225% and decrease enteric methane emission intensity by 44 to 68% across production systems, relative to the baseline. 


Our Agriculture Initiative is working to transform ruminant livestock production systems to improve productivity and reduce emissions of enteric methane per unit of animal product. This project seeks to provide guidance to policy makers, and recommend incentives and institutional frameworks to encourage the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies and practices.

Why we're doing this work

In 2011, the Ethiopian Government started a bold policy process to accelerate the attainment of middle-income status by 2025, while adopting green growth pathways that foster development and sustainability. The Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) was created to protect the country from climate change by identifying environmentally sustainable economic opportunities to accelerate the country’s development. 

In its CRGE strategy, the country recognized that pursuing a conventional development path would result in adverse effects like a sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable use of natural resources. To avoid these negative effects, and encourage development while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the green growth pathway plans to limit national greenhouse gas emissions to 150 megatonnes CO2 eq instead of 400 megatonnes CO2 eq. in 2030 under a business as usual (BAU) scenario. A key pillar of this strategy is to improve livestock productivity to ensure food security and improve farmers’ livelihoods while reducing emissions. The dairy sector was identified as a priority sector for the Government, which aims to increase Ethiopian milk production.

At national level, the emission intensity of milk produced from dairy cattle is on average 24.5 Kg CO2 eq./kg of fat and protein corrected milk (FPCM). Emission intensity were on average 44.6, 18.9, 8.7 and 3.8 kg CO2 eq./kg FPCM for mixed crop-livestock, pastoral and agro-pastoral, small-scale commercial, and medium-scale commercial systems, respectively. 

The strong correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and milk productivity points to an opportunity for food and nutrition security needs and reducing methane emissions.   

What we're doing

Since 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), has supported Ethiopia in: 

  • Identifying and prioritizing low-cost strategies to reduce enteric methane emission intensity from ruminant systems using the Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM). The tool helped evaluate a broad perspective of opportunities and potential productivity gains and emissions intensity reductions for the beef sector. 
  • Improving its emissions inventory by better defining emissions intensity reduction targets, and increasing understanding of measures to improve productivity, production system efficiency and reproduction systems. 
  • Mainstreaming enteric methane emission measures in the World Bank's large scale investment project, “Livestock and Fisheries Sector Development Project" in Ethiopia. 

Pollutants (SLCPs)