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Monday, June 17, 2024
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Zim, Kenya collaborate on drought mitigation strategies

Story by Tarirai Madhuyu

ZIMBABWE and Kenya are collaborating on sustainable livestock feed production as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the El-Nino-induced drought.

Dubbed ‘Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems Project’ (RAFFS Project) a capacity building initiative is underway in Harare, with Zimbabwe and Kenya engaging under the banner African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

Building livestock resilience, enhancing access to affordable and quality livestock feed and mitigating El-Nino effects on livestock production took centre stage.

“The workshop is very important for the development of livestock in Zimbabwe. They are looking at critical problems which farmers face in the production of livestock. The workshop is discussing about feed and fodder which are the most critical component in the nutrition of livestock.

“Fodder will reduce the cost of production of animals. We need to come up with concrete solutions that Zimbabwe will grow its feed and fodder for the animals through cost reduction. We can improve through innovation and research coming up with modernized grazes,” said the Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development,Deputy Minister, Honourable Davis Marapira.

Key stakeholders who attended the engagement noted the importance of coordinated action to respond to feed and fodder shortages and halt huge losses of livestock on the African continent.

Director for the  Department of Livestock in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development,  Dr Sithokozile Sibanda said, “This is an emergency initiative expected to be a game changer for Africa’s livestock sector. We are collaborating on an evidence-driven short-term solutions to build resilience and address the adverse effects of the crisis on the African feed and fodder assistance project.

“It comes at a time when Zimbabwe is faced with the worst El-Nino drought season in 40 years and hence this project is expected to set a road map towards the establishment of the resilient feed and fodder assistance for the growth and sustenance of our livestock in Zimbabwe.”

Grazing land is rapidly shrinking despite the continent greatly endowed with farmer herder conflicts. The majority of African farmers easily rely on the available feeds rather than focusing on production targets. In most countries, feed and fodder industry are unstructured, fragile, inefficient and vulnerable to external forces.

“African Union Head of States had to take immediate action to alleviate feed shortages and feed-related disasters specifically to outline guidelines to stabilise, enhance efficiency production of quality livestock feeds,” said Team Leader of Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems Project _AU-IBAR, Dr Sarah Ashanut Ossiya.

“Africa is in such a horrible situation right now. We have a rising demand for African-source foods. Just like most countries on the continent, Zimbabwe is struggling to mitigate the El-Nino effects which results in high cost of production just like Kenya. We are likely going to see Africa importing food and the question is, Is Africa going to afford the importing of food when our economies are already burdened with other imports?,” said AU-IBAR Feed and Feeder Business Development Director, Mr David Maina.

The RAFFS Project seeks to respond to food and nutrition security concerns in the wake of the El Nino-induced drought which has negatively affected African feed and fodder systems as well as production of animal-sourced foods.

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