Africa has got a very high potential on growth in the livestock production and demand in Africa that might contribute largely to the continents employment and economy as well as to the resilience and productivity of the many livestock keepers.
Research carried out by David Nabarro, special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Food Security and Nutrition on Special Envoy found that as the incomes of African people increase, their demand for and access to livestock products tends to also increase.
Nabarro said that the degree to which people have predictable access to safe livestock products depends on the extent to which the local markets respond to increasing demand adding that gaps in the production can only be met through imports from other continents so as to fully meet the needs of people.
It is important for governments and other regional organizations to play key roles in setting up and executing policies for livestock development. This includes ensuring strong and predictable investments on livestock systems that are accompanied by adequate veterinary services, well enforced regulations to limit the externalities associated with intensified production and with payment for environmental services.
Policies should also include governments being enabled to combine the enforcement of regulations with the application of incentives in ways that take account of income inequalities, and are guided by applied research at the interfaces between animals and human beings within different ecosystems.
Smallholder farmers with mixed crop and livestock farming systems continue to be the main producers of ruminant (cattle, goat and sheep) products while for monogastrics (poultry and pigs), most of the expansion tend to be through industrial production systems.
Policies that encourage healthy food consumption patterns, sustainable intensification of all livestock production systems and selective promotion of monogastric livestock production have to be put in place so as to lead to an increase on the environmental efficiency of livestock systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. This can be done in ways that protect production in the pastoral communities and smallholder farmers.
Sustainable intensification of livestock production will yield significant benefits for food security, incomes, trade, smallholder competitiveness and ecosystems service These benefits need to be widely appreciated: at the present time farmers face major challenges when attempting to increase their investments in livestock production especially when the sector’s contribution to sustainable development and economic growth is not appreciated.
The required investments include increased provision of veterinary services, inputs, institutional support, processing and market These are all essential if current livestock production systems are to evolve into viable commercial operations.
Article by Vera Shawiza.