Sustainable livestock development in Africa is a topic discussed by few and rarely related to, yet the time has come to center the debate around one of the continent’s main sources of income and economic progress.
While attending the close-out workshop of the Live2Africa project by the African Union’s Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources, I realized that Africa’s future livestock will impact the entire continent’s development.
As it stands, we must lay the groundwork now to steer livestock onto a sustainable development path for the future.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), demand for animal-source foods will increase rapidly in Africa over the next 30–40 years due to population growth, rising consumer incomes, and urbanization.
FAO predicts that, as a result, livestock sector investments by producers and other stakeholders will have an unprecedented impact on livelihoods, public health, and the environment.
Live2Africa, a project heavily funded by the European Union and AU member states, should be an eye-opener for African leaders, stakeholders, and key industry players in the livestock sector to act now. This project underscores how livestock is produced, managed, and marketed in Africa.
With global climate talks increasingly recognizing agriculture as a critical component, the livestock industry and diets including animal-sourced foods are caught in the crossfire. Animal farming is thought to account for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 44 percent of which are methane.
To realize the full potential of sustainable livestock development in Africa, coordinated efforts at multiple levels are required.
Governments should prioritize developing supportive policies, regulatory frameworks, and investment plans that encourage sustainable practices. Financial institutions and development partners should provide funding and technical assistance to support capacity building and infrastructure development.
Collaboration among stakeholders, like farmers, researchers, policymakers, and international organizations, is also critical for knowledge sharing, innovation, and the exchange of best practices.
Projects like Live2Africa, which aim to improve animal health and welfare while enhancing productivity and efficiency, strengthening the livestock value chain, and promoting sustainable resource management, hold valuable lessons.
Sustainable livestock development holds immense promise for Africa, providing a pathway to prosperity and environmental resilience. Initiatives like Live2Africa, led by AU-IBAR, play a vital role in promoting sustainable practices, fostering market access, and enhancing animal health services.
By embracing sustainability, Africa can unlock the full potential of its livestock sector while safeguarding the environment and improving livelihoods for millions. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to realize this vision, creating a brighter and more sustainable future for the continent.
Contributed by Robert Kodingo