EAST AFRICA- Three East African countries, Kenya, Uganda and Somalia are among six countries in Africa earmarked to benefit from a pilot program that seeks to plug the persistent shortage of animal feeds and fodder in Africa.  

Dubbed “Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems (RAFFS),” the program was launched in Nairobi, seeking to improve livestock production and, by extension, nutrition.

The RAFFS is funded by the African Union Commission and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and aims to address the adverse effects of COVID-19, climate shocks, and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, on African feed and fodder systems.

Speaking during the launch in Nairobi, Dr Sarah Ashanut Ossiya, African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resource (AU-IBAR) representative said that lack and poor quality of feed is a driver of production inefficiencies which translates into the high cost of livestock-sourced foods unaffordable for those that need the nutrients most.

She added that the recent triple global crises of climate change, drought and flooding, COVID-19 and conflict in Russia – Ukraine and other conflicts have severely exposed the vulnerabilities in African feed and fodder systems.

“The recent drought in the Greater Horn of Africa region resulted in a massive loss of over 9.5 million livestock, valued at over US$2 billion,” she added.

According to Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, this inefficiency is “further exacerbated by over 40 percent wastage of existing feed resources.

“Subsequently, Africa imports about US$4 billion worth of livestock-sourced foods annually, effectively exporting millions of lucrative youth jobs,” added Sacko.

Kenya, according to the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock Development Mithika Linturi, is grappling with a 60 percent feed deficit of the total annual livestock feed demand of 55 million metric tonnes annually. Furthermore, it faces a 46 per cent post-harvest loss.

Across the border, on the other hand, Uganda has a feed deficit estimated at between 50 percent and 70 percent. Somalia is suffering from its third consecutive below-average rainfall season since late 2020 which resulted in excess losses and below-average milk production.

Experts, therefore are confident that the program will bridge the gap. In addition, they pointed to the link between feed to human nutrition.

Rwamiraria Bright Kanyontore, Uganda’s Minister of State for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries recommended that animal nutrition programmes should also be supported by genetic improvement and robust animal health programs.

We need deliberate strategic interventions not just in animal nutrition, but also in animal breeding, and animal health to realise the desired efficiency in our production systems,” said Kanyontore.

Other countries to benefit from the program include Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Cameroon, whose woeful tale of deficit and losses in the feed sector is also evident.

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