One way Ghana can build a sustainable and productive cattle production sector is to learn from successful modules and innovations that continue to put Israel’s cattle industry ahead of others, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, has said.
In light of this, the Executive Director has noted that Agrihouse Foundation is committed to working with the Cattle Farmers Association and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to create more long-term partnerships between local cattle farmers and Israeli companies that are developing technologies, enhancing work, improving profit and productivity in the cattle production sector.
Ms. Akosa made these comments at the opening ceremony of this year’s Livestock Poultry and Fisheries Tradeshow recently held at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra.
Highlighting some major successes the platform has chalked in the past four years, she said the Livestock, Fisheries and Poultry Tradeshow intentionally was designed to be an integral event where livestock, poultry and fisheries farmers, processors and service providers could come and exhibit their products, receive training, and network with other stakeholders to have their common concerns addressed.
“Since its inception in 2019, the platform has contributed immensely to closing the gap that has long existed between the livestock and crop sectors in the Ghanaian agricultural industry,” she reiterated in her welcome address, while highlighting the theme for the fourth edition – ‘Speed Up – Build it now’ – which she said was expected to maintain the enthusiasm built up over the years, through empowering and building the capacity of all participants.
She noted that through the Livestock, Fisheries and Poultry Tradeshow, Agrihouse Foundation has built organic data over the years, and has engaged with over 15,000 plus sub-holder farmers. Over ninety percent of participants have described the platform as perfect for introductory training in animal agriculture. This birthed more training sessions in the second edition, including poultry farming, piggery farming, cattle farming, goat and sheep farming, rabbit farming, snail farming, fish farming, grasscutter rearing, mushroom farming, and yogurt making. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency, the third edition of the event facilitated ample education for participants on the processes involved in business registration. Feedback from the (GEA) revealed that about 70 percent of the trainees who were at the event followed up to register their businesses and kick-started their agribusinesses.
Representing the Fisheries Commission, Mr. Anthony Wasipe, described LiPF Tradeshow as a laudable initiative and therefore, in his speech, encouraged participants to recognise the visible impacts of the training sessions, and make the most of them. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we must recognise that investing in sustainable development is a collaborative effort. The investment required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will not happen on its own. Government needs to join hands with investors, enterprises and other visionary institutions and individuals. Secondly, we need the will power to listen to and learn from each other. One of the innovative features of this tradeshow is that it will dive deep into nuts and bolts of Livestock, Poultry and Aquaculture investment.”
The Ghana Federation of Livestock Inter-Professional (GHAFLIP) acknowledged the efforts of the Agrihouse Foundation for bringing the Livestock, Poultry and Fisheries (LiPF) project to fruition, and organising developmental programmes and events that are beneficial to potential and seasoned animal producers.
The partnering body pointed out that the Veterinary Service Directorate (VSD) and Animal Production Directorate (APD) must be charged to put in all punitive strategies to foster growth in general livestock production, specifically the cattle rearing field, to properly manage data for productive use in animal production.
Their remarks revealed further that about 85 percent of livestock production is produced and imported by neighbouring countries around the globe and not in Ghana. In a word of caution, agro-pastoral players in the agricultural sector were beseeched to have a study and mutual understanding with aquaculture since they need one another. The GHAFLIP mentioned that the government and other players in the agric sector are expected to play very salient roles in the initiative since “rearing for food and job and small ruminants alone is not enough.”
Livestock Executive Breakfast Meeting
This year’s two-day event was in partnership with the Israeli Trade and Economic Mission to Ghana and the Israeli Export Institute. Ahead of the event, the Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation noted that the partnership had become necessary because of the increasing recognition of Ghanaian agriculture entrepreneurs who seek to enter into cattle production either for meat or dairy production; hence, wanted to know what technologies Israel had to offer in that space. “In April, when we visited Israel and saw the cattle innovation and technology, we thought it will be great for Ghana to learn and share knowledge to build a sustainable industry,” she said in a brief remark at a Livestock Executive Breakfast Meeting held as a side event to the LiPF Tradeshow at the Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel in Accra, to enable Ghanaian cattle farmers and Israeli agribusinesses explore innovative Israeli solutions in modern cattle farming.
It is important to note that in Ghana, livestock production accounts for about 14 percent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ghana. The sector is a major source of income for most farmers, especially subsistence farmers in the country. Animal agriculture contributes to adequate nutrition, offers important non-pecuniary benefits such as the provision of manure, savings, insurance, farm portfolio diversification, and strong social relations.
This, undoubtedly, makes livestock an important component of the country’s agricultural sector. The livestock species that contribute to food supply and agriculture include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry (chickens, ducks, turkeys and guinea fowl), and non-conventional livestock, mainly grasscutters and rabbits. This event focuses specifically on cattle. The cattle population in Ghana as at 2014 was 1,657,000, with a population increase of 15.4 percent from 2009–2014.
The average growth rate of cattle from 2009-2014 was 2.88 percent. The average herd and flock size in the traditional cattle farming is 15 cattle per farmer, and the average daily milk yields is about 15kg per day. There are three cattle production systems – extensive, semi-extensive and commercial systems. The extensive beef cattle production system is the main cattle production system practised in the country, and it is based mainly on extensive grazing by smallholder herds.
It may be linked with a milk production system whereby milk is shared between the herdsman and the calf, with the surplus going to the market. Very few cattle farms fall under the semi-intensive system where the feeding is supplemented with crop residues. In this system, some herds of cattle are owned mainly by professionals and businessmen living elsewhere with little or no involvement in the management of the animals. The very few cattle found in intensive system are on institutional farms.
“We believe this executive meeting is in the right direction as one way to project the livestock industry; to have the key target stakeholders come together to discuss and share knowledge on the challenges and explore modules that have worked. Israel is already a success story; their cattle industry is making the most of modules that are working, and we believe that through shared knowledge, demonstration and many more business to business meetings, Ghanaian cattle farmers will be able to take steps in building a more productive cattle industry,” she noted.
For her part, the Ambassador of Israel to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, H.E Shlomit Sufa, said by investing in, and over the years, developing some interesting technologies in the fields of irrigation, water dissemination, cloud seeding and combatting desertification, Israel’s success in the area of agriculture is ahead of many countries. “It is the reason the agricultural sector is one of the core sectors we operate in to promote government to government, and business to business to relations in Ghana”
She said Israel’s international agency for development has been at the forefront of ensuring that we share our expertise and skills to contribute to efforts aimed at improving the agricultural sector in Ghana, highlighting projects including plant nutrition, intensive fish farming, milk production, among others, which are being offered to a number of professionals in the country. She, therefore, urged the cattle farmers to make the most of the interactions to explore their chances of investing in their cattle production ventures.
For his part, Hadar Shor, who is the Director of Africa, Middle East and India at the Foreign Trade Administration – Ministry of Economy and Industry of Israel, said livestock production is one of the bases of Israel’s economy, and “the biggest leap for the country was moving into dairy farms”, he stressed.
Speaking on behalf of the Ghana National Association of Cattle Farmers, the President said networking events were very important for the association as it created avenues for knowledge-sharing which leads to development. He said although the cattle production sector plays a major contribution to Ghana’s economic stability, conflicts between cattle farmers and crop farmers in many parts of the country sometimes shadow this important fact. He noted that the situation, is in many ways, is affecting the development of the cattle production sector in the country although millions of Ghanaians depend on the sector for employment and food. “From the families of cattle farmers, to traders, processors, those in transport, among others”. He used the opportunity to call for unity and peaceful dialogues among traditional leaders of communities where conflicts with cattle farmers have been reported.
The overall objective of the forum introduced innovative cattle farming technologies for improved productivity and sustainable cattle farming in Ghana. The meeting provided a platform for knowledge and experience exchange on modern cattle farming for enhanced productivity of farmers. It further highlighted key challenges related to cattle farming in Ghana; promoted partnerships and advantage strengths among actors in the cattle farming sector; created an opportunity for companies with innovative cattle farming technologies/solutions to expand their customer base and market their products.