Livestock has the potential of lifting millions of Africans out of poverty by providing them jobs and meaningful career. It also can serve as a lever in tackling much of the economic, social and environmental issues of our time. Yet much of these potentials have not been adequately unleashed for the benefit of the African farmers, let alone the wider African Communities.
It is under this premise that Dr Yemi Akimbamijo was invited as a guest Lecturer at the 1ST Department of Animal Science Annual Lecture (DASAL) Series 2015 which focused on the theme Livestock and Economic Well-being in Africa. The lecture was delivered on 3rd June, 2015 at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria before an audience of about 500 staff, students and principal officials of the University, and the chief sponsor of the day, Alhaji Tajuddeen Dantata, CEO Dantat Food and Allied Products.
There are several barriers in successfully using livestock production to enhance economic well-being in Africa. Some of these barriers revolve around low access to technical information, weak governance and poor coordination of adaptive research for the benefits of target groups. How Africa tackles these barriers in order to move the livestock sector forward has been the focus and mandate of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) since its inception in 2000.
In his presentation, Dr Akinbamijo emphasized on why livestock matters in the context of the African continent. He underlined the mega trends in the sub-sector and their implication on the impact of livestock on the economic well-being of Africans and concluded by proposing some ways how the livestock sub-sector could contribute to the attainment of the future agriculture, including livestock, that Africans want.
Why does livestock matter?
When we consider, said Dr Akinbamijo during his lecture, that ¾ of Africa’s rural households possess livestock; that the livestock sub-sector employs 50% of agricultural labor force on the continent; that it account for about 1/3 of agricultural GDP, contributing about 10% of GDP; and that livestock appears to be the fastest growing agriculture sub-sector on the continent, there is no doubt that livestock indeed matters when it comes to dealing with the economic well-being of Africans.
The Speaker of the day also added that animals are a major source of livelihood contributing to food, employment and income, soil fertility improvement, traction (ploughing & transport), capital accumulation to cope with food crises and major life events, socio-cultural status, etc.
Realising the potential of livestock to enhancing economic well being
In order for the livestock sub-sector to realize its potential to enhancing the economic well –being on the continent, Dr Akinbamijo proposed the following paths: a) the livestock sub-sector needs to get a due attention at the policy level; this entails that the sub-sector is well embedded and integrated within the various agricultural policy and research frameworks such as the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP), National Agricultural and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIP), Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa Implementation framework, etc.; Emphasis should be put on developing evidence to support policies on livestock on the continent; substantial investment should be devoted to services for animal health, processing and marketing to increase self-sufficiency in livestock products. b) Livestock has to be considered as an integral part of agriculture and food systems through a proper and efficient integration of crop-livestock-aquatic and forestry resources.
It is to be noted that this DASAL 1st Lecture series 2015 was sponsored by Dantata Foods & Allied Products (DFAP) Ltd, the solely Nigerian company based in Kano involved in the production and packaging of food, beverages, and processing of agro allied products.