How Lack of and poor quality feed is fueling high cost of living in Africa

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7- Most Africans spend more than 10 percent of their daily incomes to purchase livestock sourced foods due to inefficiencies in the feed and fodder sector.

The inefficiencies which the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) is working towards addressing means there are more eroded livelihoods that among other things results to malnutrition and more so among children.

AU-IBAR through the Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems Project (RAFFS) is working towards coming up with evidence and data based solutions for the challenges- whose impact have been dire.

The situation has been worsened by the challenges of climate change, COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

“The lack of and poor quality of feed is a driver of production inefficiencies translated to the high cost of livestock sourced foods unaffordable for those that need the nutrients most,” African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resoruce’s (AU-IBAR) Dr Sarah Ashanut Ossiya said.

Dr Ossiya, who is also the RAFFS Project- project coordinator, was speaking on Wednesday during the ongoing five-day RAFFS Project Technical and Steering Committee meeting hosted by AU-IBAR in Nairobi.

Households which cannot afford livestock sourced foods, whose nutrients are critical for the growth of children, are among the disadvantaged, Dr Ossiya said.

This has resulted in a high prevalence rate for stunting in most African countries.

A report by AU-IBAR RAFFS Project, presented to stakeholders and experts from across Africa on Wednesday, indicates that four countries are making progress toward reducing the prevalence of stunting to 10 percent or less by 2025.

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The countries are Kenya which is at 17.6 percent, Somalia at 18 percent, Burkina Faso and Egypt.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

Stunting in early life – particularly in the first 1000 days from conception until the age of two – impaired growth has adverse functional consequences on the child.

Some of those consequences include poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life.

The RAFFS Project focuses on Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe due to “their unique contexts and challenges.”

The role of women is being supported through the African Women In Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network (AWARFA-N).

AWARFA-N seeks to enhance women’s participation and benefits across animal resource value chains, including feed and fodder, women aspire to expand beyond subsistence livestock keeping into commercial ventures at various scales.

Critical issues faced by women in the livestock sector revolve around constrained access to appropriate, long-term financing solutions tailored to their unique requirements.

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“We are happy that now we have started in particular issues that impact in the livestock sector instead of looking at them broadly,” Regional AWARFA-N President for Eastern Africa Agnes Kirabo said.

“Animal feed and fodder is at the heart and soul of the livestock sector. It is one of the biggest challenges that impede women participation in meaningful livestock production and perhaps marketing because it is very expensive and it is not available.”

Working with other stakeholders within the RAFFS project, she said they are looking at addressing these challenges.

“A safe and nutritious animal feed is equivalent to a safe and nutritious food for humans,” she said.

She added that, “women play pivotal roles in our society, serving as the bedrock for resilience through their functions in reproduction, nurturing, caregiving, and productivity. These multifaceted roles significantly contribute to individual, household, and community income, foster economic expansion, ensure food security, and enhance the well-being of children.”

Stakeholders at the event said when fortified as a business, the feed and fodder sector holds unparalleled economic potential.

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