The All Africa Society for Animal Production (AASAP) is an association of individuals, groups and institutions which have interest in the art, science and practice of animal sciences relevant for animal agriculture. These include animal nutrition and feeding, genetics and breeding, health, welfare, and other aspects of husbandry. The AASAP is a member of the World Association of Animal Production (with its secretariat in Rome). The main objective of AASAP is to facilitate the use of technical, policy and institutional innovations to address current and emerging challenges of African animal agriculture through engagement of communities of practitioners in Africa and beyond.
The All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture (AACAA) is the main mechanism through which the AASAP objective is met – i.e. providing a forum for stakeholders – professionals and other practitioners – to get together and share views on issues germane to animal agriculture. The AACAA is held every four years. The theme of each such conference is chosen based on felt needs at the time. The theme of the 7th AACAA – to be held in Ghana from, 2018 – is: Innovations to Harness the Potential of African Animal Agriculture in a Globalizing World. The key words in this theme are secure future, innovations and globalizing world.
Agriculture in Africa generally, and animal agriculture specifically, is at crossroads. There is persistent food shortages arising from rapidly increasing human population, amidst inability of the continent to significantly increase productivity. This is being compounded by a host of other trends: globalization, agricultural policy and associated impacts particularly on small producers with limited abilities to compete in input and output markets, urbanization and the aging farming community, climate change and its complex relationships with crop and animal agriculture, and low investments in agriculture.
It is determined that demand for livestock products in sub-Saharan Africa will increase several folds by 2050. The trend of increased demand is currently not matched by increase in productivity within Africa. Yet, this growing demand for livestock products presents an opportunity for the continent: in the form of contribution towards economic growth of African nations, as well as to the resilience and productivity of producers’ livelihoods, and to the food security of the continent. However, unmanaged increases in livestock production could also results in increased pressure on natural resources (particularly water and land), increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions, and the potential for more people to contract zoonotic diseases. It is also recognized that smallholders in mixed crop-livestock farming systems will continue to be the main producers of ruminant (cattle, goat and sheep) products until 2050. For monogastrics (such as chickens and pigs), most of the expansion will be through intensive production systems.
While the smallholder will remain critical in dairying and chicken sub-sectors in Africa, livestock development strategies and plans are currently not being intentional and deliberate in addressing some of the key challenges facing value chains in which smallholders operate. Key issues here are access to inputs – including land, financing, appropriate genetics, feeds, and animal health services- as well as markets. Many countries in Asia and South America have gone (or are going) through some of these phases of agricultural development, and it is clear that a combination of use of both on-farms and off-farm technological and institutional innovations from both the North and the South could be adapted to contribute to addressing some of the biggest challenges of Africa’s livestock agriculture.
With a focus on the animal agriculture (including aquaculture), the 7th AACAA will provide opportunity for research and development stakeholders of animal agriculture in Africa to discuss the current as well as emerging opportunities and challenges arising from these major trends and suggest potential actions to harness the opportunities and to address them. The conference will also examine how the continent’s animal agriculture can increase its private sector engagement – through public-private sector partnerships. In this context the conference will examine ways to leverage private sector investments through strategic national, bilateral and multilateral financing of livestock and fisheries/aquaculture research and development that also target youth and women – whose engagement represents one of the major unexploited opportunities for the continent.