Livestock is vital to the economies of many developing countries. Livestock is a major contributor to the daily protein source of man coming from animal source. The intake of protein is very vital to the maintenance of the body function and reproduction purposes. Animals also serve as source of income, employment, and possibly increase foreign exchange earnings. For low income producers, livestock can serve as a store of wealth commonly referred to as ‘walking bank’ and provides draught power and organic fertilizer for crop production and transport. Consumption of livestock products in developing countries though starting from a low base is growing rapidly.
The decline in the contribution of Livestock to Ghana’s GDP has been lingering for the past years. Provisional data released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) for 1st quarter of 2017, states that Real Gross Domestic Product for the 1st quarter of 2017 grew by 6.6 % (year-on-year) compared to 4.4 % recorded for the 1st quarter of 2016. The Industry sector recorded the highest growth of 11.5 %; the Agriculture sector followed with 7.6 % and Services with 3.7%. The Livestock sub-sector grew by 1.2% in the 1st quarter of 2017, compared to 1.8% growth recorded in the 4th quarter of 2016. Again, the Distribution of Gross Domestic Product (at Basic Prices) by Economic Activity (percent) over the past decade are as follows; 2.5, 2.3, 2.1, 2.0, 2.0, 1.8, 1.6, 1.4, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, in 2006, 2007,2008,2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 respectively.
This declining figures of Livestock contribution to GDP and the low contribution of Agriculture to GDP shows that Agriculture is no longer the backbone of Ghana’s economy. The decline in livestock production in the country poses a possible threat to the protein needs of the average Ghanaian. Are we not fed up of importing everything from “toilet” paper to tooth pick? As a country we should consider the following possibilities;
Cattle, Goat, Sheep, pigs, rabbit, and poultry production should be commercialized than concentrating on the traditional 'family own and walking bank' systems of raring animals in Ghana. Government should support animal institutes, nomadic farmers, and universities to commercialize the production of these important Livestock by merging them into large commercial firms where each farmer will be required to compete for returns by producing efficiently for local consumption and export.
Developing feed lots, paddocks, pasture or grass lands at the transitional belt and part of the guinea savannah ecological zones is possible. Boosting the production of maize and soybean which are the major ingredients for poultry feed industry by way of supplying viable and high yielding seeds to farmers.
The likes of Akate Farms and co limited, Darko farms, Ejura sheep breeding station, Kitampo goat breeding station, University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast farms, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology farms, Pong Tamale Veterinary and Animal production college, Kwadaso Agric College, Animal Research Institute at Frafraha and other institutions should receive huge support from central government in the form of subsidy and grants or loans to boost production and research to formulate policies for implementation by MOFA.
The fight between Nomads and crop farmers should be addressed quickly as possible to prevent the reluctance of citizens to raise cattle on large scale.
The yet to commence Agric Census is a good thing that MOFA can use to disaggregate the population density of livestock in order to evenly distribute resources to facilitate production. The data from this 2018 census should not be locked in the shelves of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture but should be put into good use.If we don't work to sustain the livestock industry, a time will come when the animal protein source to man will be very low to supply our growing population. At that point the options will be to import from other countries or become vegetarians or to supplement our animal protein by feeding on beneficial INSECTS.
By; Haruna Gado Yakubu
BSc Agric, MSc Animal Nutrition (Student) and Research Fellow at ILAPI
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