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Regional Livestock Confab For ECOWAS Ends   
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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (ATP) project, hosted key stakeholders in Accra to among other things examine the role of livestock breeding in promoting regional food security.

This is because the ATP project has reached a strategic turning point as the programme officially ends in September, 2012, and therefore the forum sought stakeholder recommendation as to the future direction of the livestock sector.

The two-day event brought together thirty-five key stakeholders from 10 countries Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote’ d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo which discussed the results of USAID’s ATP’s interventions in the livestock value-chain as well as creating livestock-exporting opportunities for transporters and traders.

According to Dr. Andy Cook, a consultant with USAID, red-meat trade is quite insignificant and meat contributes little to food security needs of the region. He noted that livestock trade dwarfs all the other three sectors USAID-ATP covers, such as maize and onion/shallot value chains.

Dr. Cook described the production of livestock as stagnant because of the drought cycles in the Sahel region where cattle are mostly reared. However, he observed that the trend is slowly improving because crossing of exotic breeds and veterinary care are improving.

Dr. Cook noted that the trade in livestock in the sub-region is mainly characterised by cattle comprising 65 percent, goats 24 percent, and sheep 7 percent. His findings also noted unreliable sanitary control coupled with unroadworthy refrigerated trucks as limitations that hamper the trade.

Participants also discussed the relationship between livestock breeding, natural resources and ecosystems within the context of changing climatic conditions.

The event was a collaborative effort between USAID’s ATP and COFENABVI, a regional livestock organisation that targets francophone West Africa, which provided its strategic plan -- which was also discussed extensively.

USAID is a regional initiative aimed at increasing the value and volume of inter-regional agricultural trade and food security in the three value-chains: livestock /meat; maize/cereals; and onion/shallot covering seven West African countries.
Source: B&FT

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