Lobby wants livestock budget raised to a third

The Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (Ibar) has asked the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to reserve at least 33 per cent of funding from the Treasury for the department of livestock.

This translate to Sh12.9 billion out of the estimated Sh38.9 billion the Treasury has allocated the ministry for the 2013/14 fiscal year.

The union, comprising 57 member states of the African Union (AU), said the country should direct significant funds to the sector to boost livestock production.

“Last year Ibar held a conference involving participants from the Ministry of Agriculture across Africa where we agreed to push for at least five per cent share for livestock,” Ibar information system manager Ibrahim Gashash said.

Speaking at an event organised by Livestock Data Innovation in Africa, Dr Gashash said on Friday in Nairobi that besides boosting trade, livestock products could help address perennial food shortages witnessed in Kenya during dry spells.

Dr Gashash suggested the government should invest more in the northern arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya as this would create about 400,000 jobs given the region comprises 70 per cent of the country’s livestock herd.

The livestock body has partnered United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Bank, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and African livestock ministries to develop efficient livestock data system.

The move is meant to capture accurate livestock population, identify specific needs of each African country and their solutions.

The programme worth Sh209 million ($2.5 million), started in 2010 and has since facilitated data handling in pilot countries Uganda, Tanzania and Niger.
Ugo Pica-Ciamarra, FAO livestock economist said that left unchecked the meat and milk markets in Africa would lag behind the rest of the continents.

The African meat market stands at 34.8 million tonnes while that of milk is 82.6 million, according to Mr Ciamarra’s report.

In the 2012/13 fiscal year ending June 30, the ministry of livestock which has since been merged with Departments Agriculture and Fisheries received Sh8.6 billion.

Government data shows the contribution of livestock to the national agricultural output stands at Sh320 billion ($3.7 billion) per year.