What’s the future of sustainable livestock in Africa? Leaders discuss

On Friday, leaders from 6 African countries as well as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and USAID convened in Ethiopia to discuss the future of livestock in the continent.

The countries include Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. The meeting was convened under the understanding of the forecast on Africa’s economy. The continental economy is expected to experience significant growth in the next 20 -30 years, with agriculture playing a key player in its advancement

Using this projection, growing economies are presumed to be complimented by growing household incomes – which will unapologetically demand livestock commodities such as meat, dairy products and eggs. In such, the creation of African Sustainable Livestock 20150 (ASL 2050) was birthed.

ASL20150 aims to house dialogue between countries, ministries and specialists to bring aid to Africa’s preparation on sustainable livestock, building capacity to minimize possible challenges we may face in future.

Leslie Reed, USAID Ethiopia Mission Director believes that the demand for milk, meat and eggs is going to double, triple and even quadruple in some African countries – which is going to cause a revolution in the livestock sector. “With ASL2050, we are going to collaborate with governments to work out how to build the foundations for this change, so that African farmers and consumers will be better off. More livestock means more feed is needed, and land use will change. This presents some challenges for the environment that we need to start preparing for now,” Reed added.

Through this convening, ASL2050 has the potential to identify actions that can be taken now to ensure a sustainable and productive livestock in future, while protecting the environment and public health. As Director of Animal Production and Health Division of FAO Berhe Tekola stated at the meeting, Asia experienced a period of dramatic economic growth between 1970’s to early 2000’s which impacted the livestock sector. However, because there were little to no safeguards placed to manage infectious disease spread the world witnessed the emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in 2003.

While Africa is etched at the brink of a potentially exponential demand for livestock products, it is of high significance to create measures of protection against infectious diseases that may stray us from realizing Agenda 2063. Hopefully through collaborating with the newly established Africa Centre of Disease Control  ASL2050 can forge preventative measures to keep Africa on par with holistic development.