As of 2014, Africa accounted for just 5 per cent of the world’s beef, sheep, chicken, pork and goat meat production.
This was the equivalent of some 14 million tonnes, with South Africa being the largest producer at 20 per cent of the total or some 2.6 million tonnes. Egypt followed at around 10 per cent.
While Africa’s food system has transformed over the past decade, projections show- that in 2030 and 2050, between one-tenth and one-fifth of the beef, pork, poultry, and milk consumed in Africa will come from outside the continent, showing the untapped potential of the multibillion-dollar sector.
A prolonged economic growth, an expanding population, urbanization, and changing dietary preferences and habits mean that African countries have to do more than offer- lip service to the sector to meet the growing demand for meat products.
Agriculture, political stability, commodities and population are the four key pillars of growth on the continent. However, despite the agricultural sector being the largest job creator, governments continue –to give limited attention to the sector stunting its growth. This stymied growth has thus continually denied Africans the financial empowerment they have sought for decades.
In the poultry sub-sector, for instance, there is a predicted steady growth which is expected to see the segment hit 11 million tonnes by 2030. For perspective on this growth, the continent produced 5.7 million tonnes of chicken meat in 2018 which was a 4.2 per cent increase from 2017.
Between 2013 and 2018, the total meat output volume increased at an average annual rate of 2.4 per cent.
At an output of 1.8 million tonnes, South Africa produced the highest volumes of chicken on the continent in 2018, with Egypt producing 1.1 million tonnes and Morocco producing 720,000 tonnes. These three countries had a combined 62 per cent share of total production.
A new report by the Malabo Montpellier Panel shows that the increased demand for more animal-sourced foods– such as dairy, eggs, and meat–, has been driven by a growing middle class across the continent.
Despite the fact that most African countries are still heavily import-dependent, the good news is that domestic livestock sectors have been steadily growing to meet demand.
“Moreover, Africa’s livestock sector forms the basis of the livelihoods of millions of people in pastoralist, mixed crop-livestock farming, and commercial systems, with the potential to generate much-needed employment opportunities—especially for women and young people—along the value chain, ranging from research and development to production, product processing, and product transformation as well as marketing and trade,” notes the Panel.
To achieve better results, the report, “Meat, Milk and More: Policy innovations to shepherd inclusive and sustainable livestock systems in Africa,” highlights that livestock policies must be designed against the backdrop of climatic changes and growing resource scarcities, – animal health and human safety concerns, as well as a better understanding of how livestock-based products can both help address malnutrition and in fact contribute to a range of non-communicable diseases.
The report features four countries showing what works for each country.
In Ethiopia, the government has carefully and systematically adapted institutions and policies for pastoralist and non-pastoralist producers to ensure that the livestock sector can contribute toward achieving its commitments on poverty alleviation, food security, and improved nutrition.
The most populous East African nation has adopted a multi–pronged approach to simultaneously build capacity in animal health, research– and marketing, attracting significant investment from the private sector and development partners.
In the landlocked West Africa nation of Mali, the country is focusing on improving animal health and feed and promoting increased productivity of local cows through breeding. The government has also invested in infrastructure development and equipment to commercialize the livestock sector and facilitate the export of live animals in the region.
South Africa’ssuccess in the livestock sector is underpinned by a vibrant private sector and national efforts to include and commercialize production from small and emerging farmers. The country has a relatively well-established animal health system, in conjunction with better marketing and access to finance which enables farmers to prosper from livestock production.
Another East African nation, Uganda, stands out for its commitment to strengthening its dairy sector through dedicated policies, including the Dairy Master Plan to liberalize the dairy industry and to restructure and privatize the state-owned dairy processing company Dairy Corporation, which has contributed to the transformation of the dairy industry. Uganda’s programmatic interventions are directed toward enhancing the livestock sector with a primary focus on the dairy value chain and maintaining self-sufficiency in milk production.
Livestock production in Africa occurs across a wide range of heterogeneous production systems. These are pastoral, mixed crop-livestock, and commercial livestock systems. Each of these has their distinct characteristics, challenges, and opportunities which the governments must work to address.