pastoral paradise

Tanzania leads the way in Africa’s livestock renaissance

By Abdallah Ulega, Hailemariam Dessalegn

Posted on September 1, 2023 09:01

A Maasai warrior nuzzles with the favourite camel of his herd that grazes on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. (Reuters)
A Maasai warrior nuzzles with the favourite camel of his herd that grazes on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. (Reuters)

Tanzania’s success in the livestock sector is the result of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s focus on empowering women, youth and smallholder farmers.

Like many African countries, Tanzania has a rich agricultural heritage, with livestock playing a vital role in its culture and economy. The country’s vast pastoral landscapes and diverse agroecological zones provide the ideal setting for livestock farming, which under the steadfast leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, has witnessed a transformative shift.

Suluhu’s decisive investments over the past two years have modernised and revitalised agriculture, empowering youth and women to drive the resurgence that now reflects a promising shift across Africa with the potential to positively impact food security, nutrition and the livelihoods of millions of families.

The Africa Food Systems Forum (AFSF), which will be held in the vibrant city of Dar es Salaam, provides an opportunity to identify opportunities and confront the challenges within the country’s livestock industry.

The forum is a platform for stakeholders to collaborate, exchange ideas, devise strategies and strike deals that will enable Africa, and Tanzania in particular, to harness the full potential of the livestock sector while mitigating the negative consequences often associated with rapid growth.

Women in business

How can the country position itself for success on the global stage? This transition requires the prioritisation of three critical issues: youth and gender inclusion, climate adaptation and sustainable livelihoods.

Empowering youth and women in the livestock sector is crucial for long-term sustainability. Tanzania can foster a new generation of livestock entrepreneurs by offering innovative training, funding and support to the millions of budding farmers emerging across the country.

Breaking down gender barriers will lead to a more inclusive and equitable industry. A group of researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), under the leadership of Anthropologist Alessandra Galiè, and in conjunction with Emory University, formulated the Women’s Empowerment in Livestock Index (WELI).

This innovative index is designed to evaluate the empowerment of women within production systems, where livestock plays a crucial role.

The Women in Business initiative, a collaboration with Tanzania’s private sector actors, including integrated poultry enterprise AKM Glitters, has opened up avenues for the expansion of gender-responsive initiatives driven by the private sector, with a strong focus on women, youth and livestock.

Coping with climate change

Climate change poses a significant challenge to agricultural systems globally, with severe effects on livestock farming. It is imperative to incorporate climate-smart practices into livestock production.

By 2031, livestock investments could drive over 80% of GDP growth

Tanzania must explore further climate adaptation strategies to bolster resilience, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and endorse sustainable livestock management.

Several ongoing initiatives include the introduction of superior breeds, strategic livestock fattening for cattle, goats and sheep, improved feeding protocols, increased access to water, and the establishment of modern ‘livestock guest houses’.

Smallholder farming

Livestock provides a lifeline for many Tanzanian farmers, especially those in rural areas. Promoting sustainable livelihoods and inclusive business models can help these farmers thrive by boosting their productivity and market access.

The strengthening of value chains with attention to processing and marketing functions is essential. Prior investments positively impact incomes, raw materials, youth unemployment and food security. With consistency, it is estimated that by 2031, livestock investments could drive over 80% of GDP growth.

Tanzania’s success in the African livestock renaissance hinges on visionary leadership, cross-sector collaboration, and a commitment to sustainable practices.

Conservation and progress

By investing in youth, empowering women, embracing climate adaptation and supporting smallholder farmers, the livestock sector can be transformed into a catalyst for inclusive growth and sustainable development across Africa.

The AFSF is the perfect opportunity for Tanzania to showcase its commitment to this transformation.

By uniting like-minded leaders, stakeholders, and partners in transformative conversation and action, the country can pave the way for a thriving and resilient livestock sector, creating a brighter future for all.

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