Africa / Agriculture / Ethiopia / Food Security / Livestock

Commercialisation of livestock agriculture in Africa: Challenges and opportunities

For too long, the potential of the livestock sector in Africa has not received the attention it deserves. Policies and other institutions promoting livestock development have been weak or absent in most African countries.  Commercialization has not been a focus and livestock production remained predominantly subsistence-oriented. Commercially oriented animal production systems are more likely to respond to demand and price signals, thus allocating scarce resources more efficiently. Commercial orientation is also likely to have a more sustainable effect in increasing incomes and improving food security. Hence, it is crucial for Africa to develop policies, strategies and programs that address constraints to the commercialization of its animal agriculture. These interventions should consider the entire value chain, including input delivery, production, processing, marketing and distribution.

In the past, the debate on the type of appropriate interventions for the improvement of livestock in Africa was limited to technical innovations to enhance production and productivity. Very little attention was given to the policy and institutional issues that play a pivotal role in determining the overall success or failure of the sector. Today, it is recognized that building effective policies and institutions, especially those that facilitate market access, are the indispensable first steps in commercialization.

The 5th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture (Addis Ababa, 25-28 October 2010) will address key issues, including:

  • Examine the provision of livestock production and marketing services, and evaluate the extent to which these services are sufficiently and responsively meeting the needs of different stakeholders (producers, processors, traders and consumers) in light of market requirements and expectations.
  • Articulate the essential steps in developing an effective delivery system for market-oriented, demand-driven services that stimulate investment in livestock and enhance farmers’ capacity to develop livestock enterprises, and generate pro-poor benefits to small-scale livestock farmers supported by pro-poor policies that remove market access constraints.

These issues will be examined from different angles and perspectives. Government ministries and agencies, private companies and entrepreneurs, and the NGO community can all contribute to sharing perspectives that will help Africa develop and implement appropriate policies and innovative institutional arrangements relevant for poor livestock keepers. Key questions in this line include:

1. Is Africa’s research and extension system recognizing the need for market-oriented animal agriculture and re-orienting itself to address the associated challenges to commercialisation, and can it respond to pressures from increased global trade, growing domestic demand, a deteriorating resource base, limitations on land availability, privatization/decentralization of livestock services, competition from the North and large commercial enterprises, and global disease threats?

2. What policy, institutional and legal frameworks are needed to assist poor livestock keepers to access local and regional markets?

3. Does Africa have a chance in global livestock markets? Does it need it? How large is the local (African) livestock market and how can Africa organize itself to develop and better utilize this market?

  1. What are the current constraints to engage the private sector in livestock development – especially in the provision of livestock services (animal heath, breeding, feed processing and other input delivery)? What are the challenges and opportunities in this regard?
  2. Overall, what are the incentives needed for commercialisation of livestock agriculture?

Organized by the All Africa Society for Animal Production and the Ethiopian Society of Animal Production (ESAP), the overall objective of the conference is to provide an opportunity for African scientists and the broader stakeholder groups in the livestock sector to discuss the potential role of animal agriculture to improve the livelihoods of African people. The broader objective of the conference will be met by attempting, through discussions of a series of papers, to answer the above questions. It is hoped that, at the end of the conference, there will be specific recommendations around the above questions.

The organizers are looking for individuals to convene various sessions.  Convenors will be session chairs and are expected to identify key speakers and topics and to take leadership in organizing the sessions.

Please send an e-mail to the address below indicating your desire to attend and whether or not you intend to present a paper. Although the sessions are yet to be finalised, preliminary compilation of participants and possible potential titles of contributed papers will start immediately.

Please send all information and enquiries to: Rahel Mesganaw ( or Tadelle Dessie (

One thought on “Commercialisation of livestock agriculture in Africa: Challenges and opportunities

  1. It’s true that African countries have not invested much on improving productivity of livestock in their respective countries. Similarly, no efforts have been done to characterize potential indigenous livestock for conservation and prospective improvement. Markets and Marketing channels for livestock and livestock products are unknown and unorganized, therefore needing collective efforts to establish and organize

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