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African Union Member States convene to discuss a resilient African feed and fodder agenda with experts

The Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems (RAFFS) Project continues to take proactive steps to address profound impacts of the global triple C crises (Climate Change, Covid-19 and Conflicts) on African feed and fodder systems.

The project held an Experts Workshop from 11th to 15th of December 2023 that brought together key stakeholders from 6 African Union Member states where the project is being implemented (Uganda, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cameroon) to deliberate on strategies and initiatives crucial for the resilience and sustainability of feed and fodder systems in the continent.

The workshop was  divided into five teams for strategic deliberations on key pertinent areas in the project:

Drafting a Data Management Framework: This team focused on drafting guidelines for a feed and fodder data management framework, aiming to establish a platform for an integrated multi-actor ecosystem.
Commercialization and Contracting Models: Experts here deliberated on contracting models by sifting through case studies and creating profiles for feed and fodder commercialization and contracting models in the continent while paying special attention to the 6 countries of implementation.
Investments and Financing: This team profiled investments and financing mechanisms while analysing the challenges and gaps for feed and fodder enterprises to ensure sustained growth.
Multi-Stakeholder Platforms: Formulating guidelines for feed and fodder multi-stakeholder platforms was crucial for this group. The team looked at best strategies for collaboration by the different players and key aspects of co-ordination required for an excellent sector.
Communications and Knowledge Management: Experts discussed diverse strategies for communication, visibility and knowledge management for the project to ensure that the project’s current and emerging narratives are well articulated in diverse multi-media approaches.

This strategic meeting sought to discuss pertinent issues in the sector and drive a campaign for Heads of State and Governments to take a critical look at the sector and initiative urgent actions to avert future crises. A recent drought in the Horn of Africa resulted to a loss of over 9.5 million livestock worth over $ 2 billion.

The experts noted the importance of critically analysing the sector and communicating key messages and agenda setting on the narratives that require urgent attention. There is need for coverage that not only galvanizes people into action but also presents successes and business opportunities within the feed and fodder domain. The current reporting landscape, dominated by the narrative of livestock deaths rather than an analysis of the entire problem from rangelands destruction, animal health, human health and the one health agenda that critically analysed issues was discussed. Experts discussed the need to explore the logistics, the robustness of business models, and the untold success stories.

During the workshop, AU-IBAR’s Director Dr. Huyam Salih highlighted the importance of urgent mobilization of resources to support the sector and increase private and public sector initiatives for production. The workshop emphasized the need for timely interventions to avert future feed and fodder shortages. “We need urgent mobilization of resources to support the sector on the continent and increase private and public sector initiatives to increase production,” she said.

RAFFS Project lead, Dr. Sarah Ashanut Ossiya called for a critical analysis of the sector noting the importance of urgent strategies and actions by countries to avert future crises in the sector.

National Strategies in Focus

Dr. Stanley Mutua, Head of Animal Feeds and Nutrition at the State Department for Livestock Development Kenya discussed the critical Kenya Management Information System (KIAMIS), a data-driven national agriculture and farmers’ database. Similarly, Zimbabwe has implemented a presidential silage and forage production scheme, a hay bailing program, and liberalization of farming input importation.

In Somalia, Dr. Mowlid Abdullahi Dahir highlighted ongoing capacity-building efforts on feed and fodder data management, despite challenges like insecurity affecting data collection. Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and the National Livestock Development Policy, utilizing the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) platform to improve data collection.

Despite significant strides, challenges persist. Denis Mulongo Assistant Commissioner Animal Nutrition, Ministry of Agriculture in Uganda stressed weak policy frameworks and an underdeveloped feed production system affecting the sector. In Cameroon, Deputy Director Kilian Fru Asongwe highlighted reliance on a World Bank-financed livestock development project to boost feed and fodder production.

The challenge lies in bridging the gap between the outcomes-focused coverage and the often-overlooked business opportunity side of feed and fodder. To present the statistics that reveal that 26% of children in Africa are suffering from stunting, highlighting the direct correlation between livestock feed, meat production, and human nutrition needs to be an everyday discussion.

The experts advocated for a comprehensive approach that addresses the financial aspects of the feed and fodder sector. Questions were raised on how banks are engaging the sector, stressing the importance of creating a dialogue around investments and opportunities. A call to action was issued to explore the legislative avenues that can designate feed as a public good, ensuring its prioritization in government initiatives.

The Experts Writeshops was a strategic gathering for these countries to share insights, strategies, and challenges, fostering collaboration and innovation in the quest for resilient feed and fodder systems. Draft guidelines on the 5 thematic areas were developed and will be validated early next year by stakeholders.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

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