Although the domestic livestock industry accounts for about 40 percent of the agricultural sector’s total annual output, it gets a mere five to 10 percent of the sector’s total budget allocation.
Apart from contributing a significant share of the agricultural sector GDP, livestock plays a crucial role in food security and supporting rural livelihoods and economic development, says Zoetis Incorporated, a leading global animal health company.
Zoetis, which described industry’s budgetary allocation as unjustifiably insignificant, lamented that over the past decade the livestock sector on average received just five to 10 percent of the annual budget funding amount allocated to the agricultural sector.
According to the American drug company, which is the world’s largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock, despite being a major contributor to the agricultural economy – holding about 40 percent of the sector’s gross domestic product (GDP) share -livestock farming is facing neglect and lack of adequate funding.
Speaking at the African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement Plus (A.L.P.H.A +) conference held in Accra-Ghana, Chief Veterinary Officer and Zoetis country representative Dr. Emmanuel Allegheny-Cudjoe mentioned that, indeed, the poultry sub-sector is the most significant in the livestock industry but also the most fragile when it comes to diseases as well as cost of inputs.
To correct what he described as inadequate support, he called on government to increase the livestock sector’s budgetary allocation in order to boost local meat production. “One of the major needs is access to credit, capacity building to apply all the husbandry and disease control models available; hence the need to increase budgetary allocations to the sector for growth and sustainability to compete with imported meat,” he said.
“Moving forward, there is a need to increase feed production to beat down the cost for farmers. Fortunately, Zoetis is here to help with the vaccination and other disease control inputs. But ultimately, our poultry farmers need the support of government,” he added
Regional Director-Zoetis Africa, Dr. Gabriel Varga, on his part lamented that the current allocation to the livestock sector – not only in Ghana but all-over West Africa – is not commensurate with the sector’s contribution to overall agricultural output and nutritional requirements of the region’s population.
“We have been working with different countries in Africa by investing in the livestock value chain for growth and sustainability. In Ghana now, the poultry industry is in a difficult situation due to diseases, cost of feed and less capital support. So, this has made the business less profitable; and so, Zoetis is here in Ghana with a goal to make the production of poultry more effective, productive – and to help with the population’s nutritional needs,” he said.
Livestock farming, encompassing dairy, poultry and other animal husbandry activities, is an important source of income for millions of farmers and rural communities. Additionally, it contributes significantly to agricultural GDP growth and sustains local economies.
However, statistics indicate that a small fraction of the agriculture budget is allocated to the livestock sector. This neglect not only undermines the significance of livestock farming but also threatens the industry’s sustainability.
Investments in livestock farming are essential to provide support for breeding, feed quality, disease control and better animal welfare practices. Neglecting this sector can have detrimental effects on rural economies and the country’s overall food security, Zoetis warned.
Dr. Varga further stressed that the lack of adequate financing for the livestock sector limits its potential for technological advancement, innovation and productivity improvements; hindering the industry’s ability to meet growing demand for high-quality animal-based products, both domestically and internationally.
Benefits of increased livestock sector budget
Recounting the benefits of increased investment in the livestock industry, Zoetis highlighted higher agricultural GDP, improved rural livelihoods, increased employment opportunities and enhanced food security.
It added that it is crucial to recognise the livestock sector’s strategic importance and provide the necessary financial support to unleash its potential.
“We urge policymakers and relevant authorities to reassess the agriculture budget allocation and ensure a fair share for the livestock sector. Strengthening livestock farming will not only support farmers but also contribute to a sustainable and resilient agricultural system,” Zoetis urged.
A.L.P.H.A + Initiative
The A.L.P.H.A + is an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a focus on sustainable livestock production and enhanced livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is a five-year programme with an investment grant value of US$15.3million. Most impactful livestock species in the region, including poultry, dairy, beef cattle and aquaculture, are the target areas.