African countries urged to build resilient fodder systems

Workers load bales of hay into a lorry soon after they are harvested at a farm in Lamuria in Laikipia Central Sub-County. [Standard, File]

The African Union-Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) has called on countries to build resilient feed and fodder systems to avert the loss of livestock.

AU-BAR Feed and Fodder Business Development Expert David Maina said an estimated 8.9 million livestock worth $2 billion (Sh306 billion) were lost in the greater Horn of Africa alone during the recent drought.

Speaking during the Expert Writeshops for Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems (RAFFS) project in Naivasha, Mr Maina called for a regulatory framework of the livestock and feed sector to guide response to emergencies like drought and floods that affect feed and fodder production.

He noted that supply chain formalisation would ensure farmers engage in the commercial production of feed and fodder to bridge the deficit.

“It is important to position the sector to enable financiers and risk managers to see it as a business, financial or insurance product,” he said.

Mr Maina urged governments to link development objectives, national planning and budget to the feed and fodder sector to increase production and ensure proper response to disasters like floods and drought.

RAFFS Project Coordinator Sarah Ashanut Ossiya regretted that the sector is unstructured with no understanding of feed resources and remedial action for disasters.

“There is a high correlation between what happens to our children and what happens in the feed and fodder sector,” she said.

Dr Ossiya called for emergency action that is specific to the feed and fodder sector like vaccination during climate disasters and proper storage of feed.

Kenya was identified as one of the six core countries alongside Cameroon, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe for the RAFFS project.

AU-IBAR Director Huyam Salih said the RAFFS workshop is expected to strengthen coordination and revisit narrative and key messages critical to directing and procuring better results for the feed and fodder sector.

Commercial feed

“Africa has made strides in addressing the commercial feed and fodder sector which is the fastest-growing value chain,” said Dr Salih.

She regretted that the feed and fodder sector was not adequately addressed in the El Nino mitigation strategies.

“Africa has made strides in addressing the commercial feed and fodder sector which is the fastest-growing value chain,” said Dr Salih.

She called for the urgent mobilisation of resources to support the sector on the continent and increase private and public sector initiatives to increase production. 

Somalia Head of Section Feed and Fodder Production Mowlid Abdullahi Dahir said the government has developed the National Livestock Strategy and National Fodder Production Strategy to ensure proper management of the sector and boost production.

Dr Dahir noted that the Ministry of Livestock Forestry and Range of Somalia, Somalia National University, Bosaso University and Hargesia University collected data on feed and fodder with technical support of IGAD-ICPALD and FAO through focus groups, informative interviews with feed producers, livestock herders and feed traders.

However, he regretted that data collection is affected by insecurity in Somalia. 

“Lack of guidelines on data collection, lack of technology and infrastructure affects efforts to improve data management,” he said.

Nutrition system

Dr Stanley Mutua, the head of animal feeds and nutrition at the State Department for Livestock Development, said the government has established a sustainable feed and nutrition system that is data-driven to boost production.

Mr. Mutua emphasised the need for data to feed livestock and produce animal source feeds.

He said the Kenya Management Information System (KIAMIS) is a national central agriculture and farmers’ database that captures potential/actual feed resource availability data and animal feed requirements data.

Mr Mutua noted that the current feed balance report is based on ruminant animals leaving out non-ruminants like poultry and rabbits which are widely reared by farmers.

Dr Jacob Gusha said the Zimbabwe government has rolled out the presidential silage and forage production scheme for smallholder farmers, liberalised farming input importation and developed a clear livestock growth plan to boost the sector.

However, Gusha who is a senior lecturer at the Animal Production, Nutrition and Grassland Science University of Zimbabwe, regretted that the Department of Livestock in Zimbabwe has no proper feed and fodder data management and the ministry mainly focuses on training on pastures, bailing and fodder management. 

Data Management Expert Johnson Opigo said according to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Nigeria, the annual production of feed averages only 5.5 million metric tonnes far lower than the estimated demand of 50 million metric tonnes.

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