“Over the past decade, Africa’s food system has begun to transform, sparked by prolonged economic growth, a growing population, urbanisation and shifting dietary preferences and habits,” says Debisi Araba, a member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel and managing director of the African Green Revolution Forum.
“The recommendations include harmonising regulations, recognising the rights of herders, and developing tailored financial services such as livestock insurance, which can be replicated and brought to scale in other countries,” he adds.
The report says that Africa is a livestock-rich continent, with the sector contributing between 30 and 80 per cent to countries’ agricultural and national gross domestic product. For example, in Ethiopia, the livestock sector contributes 47 per cent of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product.
“East Africa’s livestock sector generates more than US$1 billion annually through the export of live animals and meat to the Middle East and North Africa,” the report adds.
According to Araba, sustainably strengthening Africa’s livestock sector can provide a major opportunity to boost economic empowerment, specifically of young people and women, improve livelihoods and advance progress towards broader national, continental and global development targets.
“The livestock sector has high potential to reduce poverty in Africa’s rural and peri-urban areas, forming the basis of the livelihoods of almost one out of three people on the continent,” he tells SciDev.Net. “A growing demand for animal sourced foods also points toward new employment opportunities, because these foods are rich sources of bioavailable energy, protein, and micronutrients. They serve the possibility of addressing persistent malnutrition.”
Bockline Omedo Bebe, a professor of livestock production, Department of Animal Sciences at Kenya’s Egerton University, says that for Africa to raise production of animal source foods to meet the growing consumption demand, greater private sector involvement is key.
“The public sector and non-governmental organisation approachesare heavily welfare oriented: too weak and ineffective to initiate and sustaintransformation towards a leap in productivity levels,” he tells SciDev.Net, explaining that the public sector needs to empower the private sector with necessary inputs and services.
“I choose private sector approach because they have the capacity to create the necessary demand for market input, services, market output and knowledge, [and] research that responds to industry growth challenge,” he says.