Earlier this month, on 14 Jun 2016, staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) helped organize a side event during the 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week on ‘How research is contributing to Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDESA)’.
The side event showcased contributions by projects under the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and their local partners in four East and Southern Africa countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Swaziland) to the LiDESA objectives, which include:
- Attracting public and private investments along the different livestock values chains
- Enhancing animal health and increasing the production, productivity and resilience of livestock systems
- Enhancing innovation, generation and utilization of technologies, capacities and entrepreneurship skills of livestock value chain actors
- Enhancing access to livestock markets, services and value addition
Four livestock-source foods—milk, pork, beef and chicken—are now worth over USD600 billion globally, making them among the world’s top six agricultural commodities in terms of value. This value continues, growing rapidly due to rising demand in developing countries, now accounts for about 40% of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) globally, often much more in developing countries. By 2050, milk consumption is likely to triple in East Africa, while consumption of monogastric foods (pork, poultry meat and eggs) will increase at least four-fold.
Replacing Africa’s current 90% of locally produced livestock commodities with imports from outside Africa is unfeasible and unaffordable. Among the challenges facing Africa’s livestock sector are deficiencies of one kind or another in the following areas:
- livestock breeds, productivity, health systems, disease control
- land, feed and water resources and measures to reduce environmental harm
- input supplies and service delivery for animal agriculture
- livestock value addition
- livestock market information and market infrastructure
- competitiveness of African livestock products
- meeting sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards
- policy, legislative and institutional frameworks impinging on the livestock sector
- capacity in livestock research and development
Given Africa’s natural endowments of land, water and pasture resources, most of which remain under-utilized and under-developed, Africa’s livestock sector can overcome these challenges to meet the continent’s growing demand for meat, milk and eggs while spurring growth and socio-economic transformation, as envisioned in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, which was adopted by the AU Assembly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in Jun 2014. Greater private and public investments in livestock inputs, services and markets can significantly raise the generally low productivity levels of Africa livestock, most of which are still raised extensively on natural pasture.
The African Union Commission, through the African Union–InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), recently led multi-stakeholder consultations and conducted comprehensive assessments of the livestock sector, including in-depth situation analyses of all five of Africa’s sub-regions. The products of these processes were used to formulate a 50-year Livestock Development Strategy for Africa (LiDESA), with the goal ‘to transform the African livestock sector for enhanced contribution to socio-economic development and equitable growth’.
Five continental agencies that can help meet the LiDESA objectives are AU-IBAR, which is championing the LiDESA strategy in line with its role to support and coordinate livestock use; the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), which is responsible for coordinating and advocating agricultural research-for-development; and three CGIAR centres—ILRI, which works for better lives through livestock; the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), which promotes sustainable livestock development in the dry areas; and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which works to improve tropical forages for better livestock feeding.
Discussions at this AASW7 side event by these pan-African livestock R&D organizations (AU-IBAR and FARA, ILRI, ICARDA and CIAT) and the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), which implements Rwanda’s national policy on agriculture and animal husbandry to deliver research and extension services, capacity development and partnerships—focused on how the national and international agricultural research systems could collaborate better.
A wrap-up session summarized the following key gaps and opportunities.
(1) Partnerships are key to achieve our goals and have impact on the ground. National partners should be involved in strategic aspects of projects and programs right from the inception phase so that they are part and parcel of the strategic agenda rather than looped in only at the implementation phases of the work, as is currently common.
(2) Science alone is not enough to bring about the transformational change we envisage. We need to strengthen country systems, particularly implementation by line ministries.
(3) Livestock research should also address the environmental footprints associated with livestock production, such as greenhouse gas emissions.
(4) Research on regional livestock trade issues, which are often ignored, should be strengthened because these aspects are important in resolving non-tariff barriers that hinder regional and cross-border trade.
The plenary recommended that:
- LiDESA set up a platform for stakeholders from the 54 member states
- FARA backstop the platform as a key science partner and work with the platform to make a case for larger investments in the livestock sector
- FARA strengthen its livestock agenda and raise the visibility of this agenda within FARA-organized events
- The relevance of livestock research be validated to ensure it is driven by the needs of target communities and their objectives.
View posters from this event: