September 7, 2023 (MOMBASA, Kenya) – The IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development, in a research-based partnership with Agence Française de Développement (AFD), held a two-day regional dialogue to validate a consultancy report that synthesized how political economy affects the livestock sector, and vice versa.
The AFD funded meeting drew IGAD Member State participation from government regulatory authorities namely: ministries responsible for animal resources & trade, the private sector involved in live animals (husbandry, housing, identity, welfare, slaughter grading) and meat trade value chains, livestock research organizations, research scientists and national bureau of statistics.
On behalf of the ICPALD Director, Dr. Ayan Mahamoud, Ag. Head of Socio-Economics Policy and Research/Snr. Programme Coordinator, stated that the report was geared “to dissect the influence of public policies on the exploitation of the livestock value chain’s potential, and secondly, to decipher the advantages and disadvantages of these policies concerning the integration of value chain participants”.
Dr. Jane Njuguna, Deputy Director at the Kenya Directorate of Veterinary Services, noted the importance of the report and the potential of existing untapped resources in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) livestock value chain. “When feed and pasture is lacking it causes communities to move from place to place. As we adopt this report, let us participate fully and save the vulnerable communities in ASALs,” she said.
Geo-political challenges faced by IGAD Member State countries inhibit development of the livestock value chain standards. Specifically, the policies and legal frameworks are critical guides in exploiting these resources. The report impacts food security, international trade, livestock diseases, water harvesting, etc.
From the deliberations it was noted that the private sector involvement and political interference needs to also be captured in the report. Polices need to be developed bearing in mind that they facilitate alignment of the livestock value chain. Ultimately, this validated report is expected to contribute to create wealth, poverty reduction, and bolstering food security of our most vulnerable communities across IGAD Member States.
The Horn of Africa hosts the largest grouping of pastoralists in the African continent. A vast area of the IGAD region consists of arid lands seasonally occupied by pastoral communities whose livelihood is dependent on livestock and ability to move across the IGAD border countries in search of water and pasture. The region’s livestock sector constitutes a major economic, social and cultural facet of life for IGAD’s 250 million plus people. It has about 520 million livestock of which 242 million (35%) are small ruminants. Majority of these animals are reared under a transhumant system that requires regular seasonal migration between feeding and watering grounds.
However, there is inadequate analysis of how politics and policy influences exploitation of livestock value chain potential. Benefits from farm to fork enjoyed by mainstream value chain actors such as producers, input suppliers, traders, transporters, processors and consumers among others has limited full exploitation of the sector. Despite the limitations, productive livestock can lift smallholders out of poverty and improve the food security of vulnerable communities as it determines animal health and productivity levels.
The sector has several opportunities that can be tapped to improve the livelihoods of value chain actors as brought out by the political synthesis report. These among others include:
Enhance regional, and international livestock markets by creating better market linkages within IGAD through forums where buyers and sellers meet face to face, negotiate deals, trade, share insights, and discuss market solutions is required;
Improve market information systems for knowledge sharing and networking among livestock actors to facilitate increased trade in livestock and livestock products. It only works if markets are function properly for efficient resource allocation in the free market economy. Based on real time and reliable market information;
Development/review of policies that address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by pastoral communities such as land tenure rights to ensure their access and sustainable rangeland management, including rotational grazing systems and conservation practices, to prevent overgrazing and land degradation and encourage the establishment of community-based natural resource management institutions that involve pastoral communities in decision-making processes.