Renewed environmental threats have led to fresh calls for African nations to adopt innovative approaches to turn around the continent's livestock sub-sector.
Experts say countries should build resilient feed and fodder systems that will provide a lifeline to the crucial sub-sector with minimal disruption to supply chains.
A team meeting in Naivasha for week-long consultations on the future of livestock says past environmental crises have undermined livelihoods, increased prices of key livestock-derived foods and exposed human vulnerabilities.
The workshop, organised by the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) project further highlighted the need for cross-border linkages in addressing cross-cutting challenges such as climate change.
The Stakeholder Initiation and Consultative Workshop from August 24-28 aims to understand the impact of climate change, Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict on Africa's feed and fodder systems.
Africa's feed and fodder systems, and to implement evidence-based solutions to improve access to affordable and quality feed, which is critical to sustaining animal-based food production.
At the same time, it seeks to empower women in the feed and fodder sector, support strategic partnerships, attract investment and reform policies and institutions to build a more resilient and sustainable feed and fodder industry.
“The farmer has been left to deal with the feed and fodder production. The State provides an enabling environment for them to do well. They, however, need more support. In Kenya, 2.5 million animals were lost to the drought that ravaged the Horn of Africa,” said Dr Christopher Wanga, Director of Livestock Policy Research and Regulations.
Dr Annie Lewa, AU-IBAR's Senior Projects and Programmes Officer, said the project was an opportunity to generate new knowledge and innovations for the feed and fodder sector. It is an opportunity to look at what innovations can be better used to support livestock feeds.
“As we draw close to the Malabo declaration in 2025, it’s now imperative that we account for how the livestock sector has fared against key targets. So far only 4 member states are on track towards achieving the targets,” she said.
Dr Wanga added: "The link between global warming and livestock requires new information on feeds and fodder in Africa. It's important that this knowledge is shared. Some scientific publications blame animals for antimicrobial resistance, while other reports blame livestock for global warming. It's vital that scientists generate new information.
"An estimated 8.9 million livestock were lost in the Horn of Africa during the recent drought.
The drought wiped out the financial equivalent of over half a billion dollars (USD 0.5 billion), demonstrating a huge market failure. Vast genetic resources developed over decades are key to climate change adaptation and to the livelihoods and incomes of pastoralists and livestock keepers in particular, who produce over 80 to 90 per cent of meat and milk," said project officer Sarah Ashanut Ossiya.
The expected outcomes of the workshop include increased awareness and buy-in for the RAFFS project across Africa, a better understanding of the impact of crises on the feed and forage sector, identification of relevant and impactful interventions, and preliminary project modalities for coordinated implementation.
The workshop will provide a platform for stakeholders to collaborate and chart a way forward to build resilient African feed and fodder systems. AU-IBAR has a mandate to lead and support livestock development across the continent.