Home News General Impetus Strategy Paper highlights ways to improve livestock development in Africa

All of us yearn for practical solutions to address the major cause of our continental poverty—an agricultural sector that has languished, but is now poised to be so much more productive and dynamic. We know that the path to prosperity in Africa begins at the fields of African farmers who, unlike farmers almost anywhere else, do not produce enough food to nourish our families, communities, or the populations of our growing African cities.

—Kofi Annan, speech delivered at the launch of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), 2007


Executive Summary


This ‘Impetus Strategy Paper’ highlights areas that can immediately improve livestock development in Africa. The paper does not try to describe every driver of change, future projection or challenge facing the sector today. The paper recognises and draws from the excellent analyses recently carried out by FAO, the World Bank and African Union’s Interafrican Bureau of Animal Resources (AU/IBAR) on African Livestock and Global Livestock Sector Development, along with detailed analysis by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on livestock health and veterinary governance. Such analysis was carried out and formulated by large teams of subject areas specialists and this paper recognises their expertise and robust analysis of the issues.
The paper attempts to focus on trends and issues that are of relevance to GALVmed now and in the future. GALVmed is a public private partnership that makes available animal health products to poor livestock keepers in low income countries that are affordable and technically suitable. GALVmed’s role is primarily one of facilitation; working with a range of partners to identify, research and register effective products that can be commercially manufactured and distributed. GALVmed’s thorough understanding of production constraints allows it to inject human and financial resources at key pivotal points. GALVmed has a strong, but not controlling, vested interest in registered veterinary products being used by low income farmers which requires a conducive investment environment. As GALVmed is often seen as a neutral party, it is in a relatively good position to bring its networking skills to bear on new challenges. The paper brings together information, evidence and examples from a range of key informants, studies and literature to assist stakeholders, working in Africa’s livestock sector, to identify potential areas where they might extend their work to best support livestock productivity improvement, primarily for resource poor farmers.

Importance of Agriculture & Livestock in Africa:

Agriculture remains important to the livelihoods of 80% of the 800 million people living in Africa and approximately 160 million poor people who keep livestock in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). Whilst the sector is vital to the continent’s ability to feed itself and lift people out of poverty, investment in agriculture has been falling until recently. Following the 2008 and the ongoing 2011 global food crises, investment is rising but remains sluggish as donors and the private sector are now faced with the challenge of how and where to invest. Agricultural policies and legislation are commonly out dated, absent or not enforceable. Infrastructure is weak and climate change increases the challenges yet further. Eighty percent of African agricultural labour is provided by women who are often marginalised and un-educated. Markets remain informal and unsophisticated. With food consumption growing rapidly, driven by high population growth and rapid urbanisation, African governments are increasingly adopting policies to energise markets. However, the agricultural transformation required to feed the masses and create rural wealth has yet to happen, particularly in the SSA’s livestock sub-sector, where capacity to address policy gaps is often inadequate.
The livestock sector is under performing in terms of yields, price and quality and there is a danger that governments may become reliant upon cheap imports and perhaps neglect initiatives that could transform domestic livestock production. The growth in SSA’s livestock sector has averaged 2% over the past four decades and is not keeping pace with population growth. This growth rate compares unfavourably with other regions for example China 7%, SE Asia 4.7%, Middle East and North Africa 3.2% and 3% in Latin America. Yet, around 10% of the human population is primarily dependent upon livestock in SSA and another 58% is at least partially dependant on livestock. Imports of all livestock products have been growing almost exponentially as demand outstrips supply. SSA currently spends around US$3.6 billion on livestock imports. There is a critical need to improve the efficiency of production in the livestock sector.
Opportunities to enhance livestock development

Yet, when looked at more closely, there are tremendous opportunities within agriculture in SSA. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), coordinated by the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), is gaining momentum; is consultative and does have the support of nearly all the major development agencies. Powered by improved political and macroeconomic stability and microeconomic reforms, real GDP in Africa rose 4.9% per year from 2000 through 2008, double its pace in the 1980s and ‘90s. The African Development Bank forecasts the annual GDP growth in 2011 will be 7%. Agriculture accounted for 12% of the GDP growth from 2000-2008 with a compounded annual growth rate of 5.5%. Because African countries are starting from a relatively low base and can benefit from more widespread adoption of existing technologies, high agricultural growth rates are being achieved particularly where there is sufficient and well-targeted public investment and supportive policies, including measures aimed at increasing private sector investments in agriculture.
The paper reviews the key players working to develop the sector and concludes that whilst there is a well ordered structure from global to continental to regional and national levels, certain voices seem to be missing from the policy process. More needs to be done to build institutions able to incorporate the voice of farmers, small businesses and entrepreneurs into policy process. Too few livestock development organisations are engaged with, and able to support, the private sector and the livestock value chains they are engaged in. With strong links to the private sector, the research community in SSA and South Asia along with good understanding of policy process, GALVmed should consider further how it can work with development partners to support and advocate for enhancing productivity in certain livestock value chains.
The paper focuses on topics deemed to be relevant to GALVmed’s core business. In each there is already some momentum in terms of political will, evidence of impact and existing linkages that GALVmed might build upon. Topics include improving the quality, accessibility and sustainability of privatised veterinary services in rural areas; further work on neglected zoonoses; new feeding technologies for ruminants; ideas on how agricultural innovations systems might be used to support research uptake by small farmers; working on particular value chains to support contract farming, agri-business investment and expanded national and regional trade.

Livestock health:

Animal health remains fundamental to improved livestock production, market access and product quality. Notable successes have been achieved in controlling transboundary animal diseases in Africa, with rinderpest eradication setting the gold standard. However, in terms of poverty reduction, veterinary services in Africa’s remote and marginalised areas fail to adequately meet the needs of poor and small farmers. The animal health section explores some of the reasons for this situation and asks what can be done, where are the quick wins? Consideration is given to access to and quality of medicines and vaccines used by private vets, accreditation of quality veterinary medicines, and increased delivery of privatised veterinary services to rural areas.
Current efforts to improve quality of medicines and vaccines focus on building the correct policies and institutions to ensure effective registration processes, enforcement of legislation and quality testing. A case is made for the initiatives cited to be scaled up and linked together. Africa’s livestock policy makers still need to support private veterinarians providing services to small farmers in rural areas. There is tremendous demand for such services but the western model of private veterinary practice is not economically viable. There is strong evidence that veterinary supervised para-professionals allow private practices, even in the most remote areas, to be profitable. Once in place such practices can be contracted to provide vital support to government epidemio-surveillance and outbreak control responsibilities. There is momentum in this area, with numerous local and national initiatives but these need to be linked up to policy and legislative change at regional level. The animal health section also provides a short review of zoonotic disease control, both emerging and neglected zoonoses. Neglected zoonotic disease particularly affects the poor and whilst GALVmed is working on several zoonoses already, including a newly funded initiative on African trypanosomosis, more could be done in this area to take advantage of GALVmed’s strong links with the pharmaceutical industry.
Livestock nutrition:

Technologies that allow greater utilisation of human inedible feeds are going to be increasingly required in SSA. Child malnutrition in Africa is already high and is predicted increase to around 50 million children between now and 2050. Ruminants are the livestock of choice for consuming crop by-products. Recent successes for small dairy farmers accessing milk markets show that feeding technologies can make a vital difference to profitability. Good nutrition is also a fundamental pre-requisite for good animal health. Several feeding technologies are highlighted that take advantage of crop by products and forage crops which have proven to be effective on experimental farms but have not been adopted by small farmers at scale. Lessons from these experiences are reviewed and some new technologies deemed appropriate for small farmers in Africa are put forward. These vary from relatively simple oilseed meal supplementation to modern genetic approaches to breeding cereal crops with straw residues of higher nutritive value.  In addition, it is suggested that Galvmed and partners could usefully enhance research uptake and value chain support by utilising the latest lessons from Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) approaches.

Livestock policy and trade:

Agricultural innovation systems are identified as extremely useful in linking research, public and private actors, value chains and policy. The paper argues there needs to be a move from mere technical assistance to institution building; particularly where this includes investing more in local institutions that support learning and advocacy. Further livestock policy reviews linked to training of senior livestock officials in effective policy process and formulation would be a positive development. Ministries of Agriculture still require more capacity and skill in marketing and business development services, as well as in forging the public–private–civil society partnerships that typify the State’s new roles. These skills must extend well beyond Ministries of Agriculture to local governments and a range of other Ministries that have important complementary roles in commercial agriculture.


The paper reviews Africa’s experiences and capacity to export livestock products to global markets and concludes that the pressing priority at this time is to develop domestic and intra-regional livestock trade. Examples of export trade, regional trade harmonisation efforts and domestic trade are provided and the need to support small and female farmers to access markets is stressed. The majority of livestock trading in SSA is still informal. Unlike other developing regions supermarkets have not yet captured significant market share but their stake is increasing. The number of households in SSA with discretionary income is projected to rise by 50 percent over the next 10 years, reaching 128 million. By 2030, it is estimated that the continents’ 18 largest cities could have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion. This rapidly urbanising population is likely to demand high quality and safe livestock food that will require higher input costs per unit of product. This trend potentially works against small farmers in favour of larger producers. Ways for supporting small farmers are reviewed, these include, strengthening cooperative action between farmers, contract farming and strengthening farmers associations. Contract farming appears to offer a practical way to support small farmers’ access markets. There is evidence that in the developing world contract farmers have, in most cases, higher profits per unit of output than independent farmers. Examples of contract farming enterprises that incorporate smallholders in high-value supply chains are provided but there are very few examples in the livestock sector in SSA. GALVmed and its partners may have a role in working with the private sector and policy makers to scale up contract farming as markets become more sophisticated. Contract farming can incorporate smallholders in high-value supply chains that require specialized inputs and sell to markets for specialized outputs. Organisation of value chain analysis or ‘talking shops’ might be one way of identifying contract farming opportunities. Value chain analyses brings players from production to processing to retailing together to agree on the demand, production parameters, growth, centres of excellence, competitive advantages, consumer trends, bottlenecks and incentives. These initiatives prioritise multiple interventions that cut across a particular value chain usually in a particular country. Such work needs to be massively scaled up and applied in numerous countries with different livestock markets and with a full range of private sector involvement.
The political will to support agro-industrial development was recently boosted by African leaders approving an “African Agribusiness and Agro-industries Development Initiative” (3ADI) in Abuja in March 2010. 3ADI is a collaboration between the African Union Commission, FAO, UNIDO, IFAD, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The goal of 3ADI is to have “an agriculture sector in Africa which by the year 2020 is made up of highly productive and profitable agriculture value chains that effectively link small and medium size agricultural producers to markets, supply higher-valued food, fibre, feed and fuel products, contribute to increasing farmers’ incomes, utilize natural resources in a sustainable manner and generate increased and high quality employment”. Ten African countries have been selected for phase I of the initiative. 3ADI is still formulating partnerships and roles and GALVmed has links with several of the key parties managing the initiative.
GALVmed, with its particular strengths, has an interest in building alliances; understanding and agreement on how best to enable a vibrant and successful livestock sector, based on some or all of the potential areas of focus identified in this paper.  The paper is designed to stimulate discussion and partnerships to give impetus in developing Africa’s livestock sector at this crucial time when Africa needs to be able to provide more food for its growing population.


References and End Notes

[1]  Livestock in a Changing Landscape Volumes I and II; The World Development Report – Agriculture  2008; The State of Food and Agriculture Report – Livestock 2009 and IBAR’s Livestock Strategy 2010 -2014

[2] OIE/WB 2007 Prevention and control of animal diseases worldwide – Part I. Economic analysis – Prevention versus outbreak costs  Part II: Feasibility study – A global fund for emergency response in developing countries – Part III: Pre-feasibility study – Supporting insurance of disease losses    http://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Support_to_OIE_Members/docs/ppt/OIE_-_Insurance_products__Part_III_.pdf

[3]  Otte M.J. and Chilonda, P. 2002. “Cattle and Small Ruminant Production Systems in sub-Saharan Africa – A Systematic Review.” Livestock Information Sector Analysis and Policy Branch, FAO Agriculture Department

[4] Steinfeld, H., Mooney, H., Schneider, F. and  Neville, L. 2010 (eds) Livestock in a Changing Landscape, Volume 1: Drivers, Consequences, and Responses ISBN-10: 159726671X