Tuesday, February 5, 2013

West Africa: Contribution of livestock to food security below potential

The N’Dama cattle (Photo credit: ITC)

Mr Solomon Owens, Gambia’s Minister of Agriculture is of the view that contributions of livestock sector to food and nutrition security, poverty reduction and environment protection in West Africa remain far below potential. 
Many at times the stagnation in livestock productivity is attributed to existence of major constraints to technology generation, and the transfer and adoption that include a limited knowledge of appropriate technologies and institutional weakness to spur innovations, he said.

Mr. Owens was speaking Tuesday Jan. 29, 2013 during a Governing Council Meeting of the InternationalTrypanotolerance Centre (ITC) held at a local hotel in Kololi, The Gambia.

The ITC strives to accomplish the mission to unlock the potential of West Africa’s ruminant livestock sector through innovative partnerships and knowledge-based solutions that empower stakeholders along value chains.

It is also mandated to carry out studies on all aspects of Trypanotolerance for the benefit of all countries which have Trypanotolerance.

To mitigate this situation will requires accelerated adoption of the most-promising available technologies so as to support immediate improvement of production by linking research and extension systems to producers more efficiently, he said.

“It will also require technology delivery systems that quickly bring innovations to farmers and agribusiness,” he said. “And mechanisms that reduce the costs and risks of adopting new technologies along the livestock value chain.”

Mr. Owens believes the implementation of the above-identified strategies will be the dominant focus of the new ITC.

The acting Director General ITC, Dr Badou Ousman Jobe, said that there is a growing disparity between population growth and food producing capacity of the developing world, especially countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

“As a result, food supplies per capita are decreasing,” he said.

However, he said the ITC has successfully addressed the mandate of carrying out studies on all aspects of Trypanotolerance for the benefit of all countries which have Trypanotolerance.
It even an expanded one that evolved from the interesting outputs and outcomes it achieved during the first decade or so of its existence, he said.

“It focused its activities on the three endemic ruminant breeds: N’Dama cattle, Djallonke goats, and sheep which are found all over the West Africa Region,” he noted.

He said the process it set up possibly to the only sizeable open nucleus based “N’Dama breeding programme in West Africa”.

This process, he claimed, has produced regional and global public goods that had impact at the local level, and contributed in no small measure to global pool of knowledge on these issues and to improved livelihood systems of the producers, and national food security goals.

“It is no surprise therefore that during this period some two decades, ITC enjoy generous support and collaboration with a variety of development partners,” he said. 

Written by Modou S. Joof

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