African governments have been urged to invest more in animal agriculture to boost growth, enhance nutrition and food security on the continent.
The Minister of State at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dr Gyiele Nurah, who made the call at opening of the 7th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture (AACAA) in Accra on Monday, said the sector was critical to the reduction of poverty, promoting food and nutrition security on the continent.
The four-day programme is on the theme: 'Innovation to harness the potential of African animal agriculture in a globalising world'.
Under the auspices of the African Union Inter-African Bureau (AU-IBAR) for Animal Resources, the programme is being organised by the All African Society on Animal Production (AASAP) in conjunction with its local counterparts, the Ghana Society of Animal Production (GSAP) and Ghana Animal Science Association (GASA) in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
It is being attended by academics, experts, researchers and players in the livestock industry from Africa, Asia, Europe and America to discuss and share views on issues germane to animal agriculture.
The conference examined innovative solutions to some key challenges affecting animal agriculture in Africa, how the continent's animal agriculture can increase private sector engagement and leverage private sector investments through strategic national, bilateral and multilateral financing of livestock and fisheries/aquaculture research and development.
The programme also included a Livestock, Poultry and Fisheries Trade show (LiPF), which is the maiden under the four-year programme, for the players in the sector to showcase their products.
Dr Nurah said animal agriculture (including livestock, poultry and aquaculture) holds enormous economic potentials across the value chains of African economies.
He said the increased demand for animal products in Africa currently did not match production, hence the need to export meat to meet the demand, saying, "The increasing demand for livestock product presented an opportunity for players in the industry to increase their production.
"The animal sector, despite its complexities, can significantly impact the local economy when properly harnessed," he said.
Dr Nurah indicated that government was committed to initiating programmes to developing the animal production industry, and mentioned the Rearing for Food and Jobs.
He commended the organisers for the initiative to promote the animal production industry in Africa.
The Executive Director of Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, said the link between innovation globalisation animal productions could not be over emphasised.
He said rapid economic growth and global dietary shifts called for increased animal production to meet the growing nutrition and food need of the people.
"Africa needs to innovate to avert food crisis and meet the food security needs of its citizens," Dr Akinbamijo said.
Dr Edward Ngomasha of the AU-IBAR said animal production had great potential to significantly reduce poverty and hunger.
He said climate change and increasing demand for food products called for innovation for increased animal production.
The Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, said the numerous programmes being pursued by the government such as the One District One Factory, Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, were open invitation to the private sector to join the government to accelerate the development of the country and spur the growth of the animal industry.
She said public-private partnership was crucial to the development of the animal industry, pointing out that the animal sector held good prospects to food and nutrition security and poverty reduction among animal farmers.