Aashish Khimasia

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Hey Moritz, thanks for your comment and question. I agree that the theory of change is long and the feedback loops are weak for a subsidy-focused policy intervention, and there are likely more promising as that are yet to be uncovered. 

Lobbying for higher animal welfare standards seems promising at first glance, particularly for asks that may in practice limit the extent to which smallholder farms can intensify:

  • limiting the stocking density of broiler hens
  • limiting the use of certain "low welfare breeds" of broiler hens
  • implementing cage free asks
  • implementing pre-slaughter stunning requirements

Notably, this would require research to determine which welfare would be most tractable and have the biggest limiting effect upon industrialization. Furthermore, identifying "win-win-win" asks that benefit the farmer, the government and animal welfare would likely increase the tractability of this. 

Another avenue may be exploring environmental and building regulation asks, to limit the ability to build large animal farming facilities, that may be required for high scale, intensive agriculture.

I would prioritise research into the key questions outlined in the report, to better understand the process and extent of industrialisation across major producing nations in Sub Saharan Africa, to identify other levers beyond subsidies to prevent or limit the extent of industrialisation, to reduce both the scale and intensity of animal farming.  

I am curious to see what Animal Advocacy Africa uncover from further research into this! 

Thanks for your thoughts here! 

With regards to the first, I do agree that this would be a concern, and would be important to attempt to mitigate. Advocating for the reallocation of subsidies from animal agriculture to arable agriculture and/or the domestic production of alternative proteins, alongside carrying out public-facing messaging interventions could lead to a reduction in the level of animal production consumption and as such limit the extent to which demand for foreign animal products with poor welfare standards rises. Further, even if this cannot be directly mitigated, there are likely to be efforts to improve welfare standards in systems that are already industrialized, such as through the work of Animal Policy International and the Open Wing Alliance. Therefore, counterfactually, there may be a net reduction in animal suffering by preventing the industrialization of agriculture in a Sub-Saharan nation like Nigeria, even if this leads to a slight increase in the scale of an already large and industrialized system, where there is more likely to be efforts to improve welfare standards.

To your second point, this is a very interesting consideration - thank you. I agree that it is worth considering whether interventions at earlier points on the gradient of intensification. A priority would be to understand what drives and facilitates farms to transition along the gradient, and how long they tend to exist at each point, in the hope of identifying particularly significant steps that could be targeted. 

For the last point, I would have suggested you discuss this with Moritz Stumpe, but I see that he has already got there! My main thought is that it would be critical to determine the distribution supply of battery cages across the nations that export them, to identify whether focusing policy efforts in a few key countries would be effective to meaningfully limit supply. 

Hi Fai, thanks for raising this consideration and I apologize for the time between your comment and my response. Although I had considered the flow of technology such as enriched cages or battery cages from the Global North to the Global South, I had not yet considered the possibility of precision farming to shape the development of animal agriculture in Africa and speed up intensification. 

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the following:

  • How concerned are you about the impact of precision agriculture technology on agricultural practices in the Global North?   
  • Is there currently a unique window of opportunity to prevent the success and/or implementation of these technologies in agricultural systems in the Global North?
  • Do you have any suggestions of interventions that could be made to prevent these technologies from being adopted in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as pre-emptive policy interventions to introduce regulations against the implementation of these technologies in developing nations to protect small-holder farmers

Great post and analogy, and a point I feel very important to keep reiterating! Something to also keep in mind is how what is considered to be common sense morally and the relative significance of different virtues can vary between cultures. As such, the extent to which this may differ from consequentialism and to which one may give weight to common sense morality will also vary.