Agriculture / Animal Production / Article / East Africa / Livelihoods / Livestock / PIL / Pro-Poor Livestock / Tanzania / Value Chains

In Africa, livestock are a catalyst for economic growth—Livestock data study findings

Tanzania Dairy Goats and Root Crops Project: M&E training

Investing in smallholder farmers who own livestock in rural Africa, such as these women in Tanzania, is a catalyst for economic growth (photo credit: ILRI/Deo Gratias Shayo).

Last October (2013), the World Bank reported on the findings of a case study on ‘Livestock and Livelihoods in Rural Tanzania.’ The study assessed opportunities and barriers to contributions livestock make to livelihoods of the poor in three African countries.

This analysis was part of a two-year ‘Livestock Data Innovation in Africa’ project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project was implemented in Niger, Tanzania and Uganda by the World Bank, the African Union–Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources and the International Livestock Research Intistute (ILRI) from 2010 to 2012.

The study reveals ‘investment gaps, potential benefits, and overall social impact’ of the livestock sector in rural Africa, the article says. These facts include how the ‘livestock sector [contributes] to the economic growth of the country, productivity of the sector itself and gender issues, especially in terms of differential livestock ownership and access to inputs and markets.

The study reports that most rural households in Tanzania are earning an average of 22% of total household income from livestock activities and 25% of the households that own livestock use organic fertilizer from their animal stock for crop production, a practice, the article says, ‘that if taken to scale can potentially increase overall agricultural production’.

Most African farmers depend on livestock such as chickens, goats and cattle for food and much-needed income from the sale of livestock and livestock products, such as meat, milk and eggs. Animal stock are thus a key asset for many households in the continent.

Furthermore, the study shows that ‘Tanzanian women who own livestock and are heads of household provide better nutrition for their entire family and are more commercially oriented than their male counterparts. Among women who own livestock, 37% of their total production is sold on the market compared to 30% of male livestock production.’

But livestock management challenges remain significant in the country. For example, ‘less than one-third of all family-owned livestock is vaccinated and approximately 60% of all the animals suffer from some type of preventable disease.’

The findings of the study, reports the World Bank article, ‘confirm that investing in smallholder farmers who own livestock in rural Africa is a catalyst for economic growth’.

Read the whole article from the World Bank website: ‘The Role of Livestock Data in Rural Africa: The Tanzanian Case Study.’

Visit the project website: Livestock Data Innovation in Africa

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