Feed and fodder committee seeks partnership to ease risks of poor quality

Stacked straw hay bails. [iStockphoto]

The Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems Project (RAFFS) technical committee has embarked on a move to adopt measures that will ease the risks of poor-quality feed to African economies and health.

The committee on Wednesday said most Africans spend more than 10 per cent of their daily incomes to purchase livestock-sourced foods due to inefficiencies in the feed and fodder sector.

The situation, the committee said has been worsened by the challenges of climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“The lack of and poor quality of feed is a driver of production inefficiencies translated to the high cost of livestock sourced foods unaffordable for those that need the nutrients most,” African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Dr Sarah Ashanut Ossiya said.

Dr Ossiya, who is also the RAFFS Project coordinator said the fact that AU-IBAR is working towards addressing the inefficiencies means there are more eroded livelihoods that among other things result in malnutrition and more so among children.

She said households that cannot afford livestock-sourced foods, whose nutrients are critical for the growth of children, are among the disadvantaged.

This, she said has further resulted in a high prevalence rate for stunting in most African countries.

“This is why AU-IBAR through the Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems Project is working towards coming up with evidence and data-based solutions for the challenges- whose impact has been dire,” she said.

A report by the committee presented to stakeholders and experts from across Africa on Wednesday, indicates that Kenya is among four countries that are making progress toward reducing the prevalence of stunting to 10 perc ent or less by 2025.

Other countries include Somalia, Burkina Faso and Egypt.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

Stunting in early life - particularly in the first 1000 days from conception until the age of two - impaired growth has adverse functional consequences on the child.

Some of those consequences include poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.

The RAFFS Project focuses on Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe due to ‘their unique contexts and challenges.’

Ossiya’s sentiments were echoed by African Women in Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network (AWARFA-N) President for Eastern Africa Agnes Kirabo who said the network seeks to enhance women's participation and benefits across animal resource value chains, including feed and fodder.

She said women aspire to expand beyond subsistence livestock keeping into commercial ventures at various scales.

According to her, critical issues faced by women in the livestock sector revolve around constrained access to appropriate, long-term financing solutions tailored to their unique requirements.

“We are happy that now we have started in particular issues that impact in the livestock sector instead of looking at them broadly,” Kirabo said.

She added, “Animal feed and fodder is at the heart and soul of the livestock sector. It is one of the biggest challenges that impede women's participation in meaningful livestock production and perhaps marketing because it is very expensive and it is not available.”

Kirabo said they are working with other stakeholders within the RAFFS project to address these challenges.

“A safe and nutritious animal feed is equivalent to a safe and nutritious food for humans,” she said.

Kirabo said women play pivotal roles in society, serving as the bedrock for resilience through their functions in reproduction, nurturing, caregiving, and productivity.

“These multifaceted roles significantly contribute to individual, household, and community income, foster economic expansion, ensure food security, and enhance the well-being of children,” she said.

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