COMESA region relies heavily on agriculture for employment and economic growth and is well endowed with livestock resources. Within COMESA, the agriculture sector accounts for more than 32 percent of GDP, supplies 65 percent of raw materials for industry, and employs close to 80 percent of the region’s population. This sector’s contribution to GDP ranges from 6 percent in Mauritius to 49 percent in Burundi. Agriculture, therefore, plays a pivotal role in the attainment of increased incomes and improved standards of living of much of its citizens. The livestock sector accounts on average for more than 35% of agricultural GDP and 30% of foreign exchange earnings.
COMESA encourages competitiveness, value addition, trade and investment in livestock sector. However, the presence of trans-boundary animal diseases (TADs) and zoonosis have often been restrictive and act as barriers to market participation of livestock producers and traders. Thus, COMESA has been working with member states competent veterinary authorities, regional economic communities especially IGAD, EAC and SADC and global organizations such as the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in improving livestock production and productivity. The COMESA region has developed livestock policy framework based on the existing development policy frameworks that could provide relevant complementarities and consistency towards providing an enabling environment for enhancing livestock productivity and returns to the livestock assets for the producers. The COMESA livestock policy framework has been aligned to African Union Livestock Development Strategy [LiDeSA] and Agenda 2063 to ensure accelerated growth in livestock subsector in a harmonised and comprehensive approach.
The COMESA Livestock Policy Framework, creates an enabling environment for the attainment of the Livestock Development Strategy for Africa and has four strategic objectives:
- Strategic Objective I: To attract public and private investments along the different livestock values chains
- Identify, map and promote priority value chains with comparative advantage at the national levels
- Promote recognition of the asset values, socio-economic benefits and potential of the livestock sector
- Develop and implement public and private sector investment policies, incentives and regulatory frameworks to enhance performance of priority livestock value chains
- Put in place safeguard mechanisms to minimize the impact of negative externalities on public goods
- Strategic Objective 2: To enhance Livestock Production and Animal Health to increase productivity and resilience of livestock production systems
- Enhance availability and access to quality feed and water
- Improve animal health systems and reduce impact of animal diseases on livestock production, productivity and public health
- Improve the genetic potential and performance of animals
- Promote the intensification of livestock production systems
- Enhance environmental health and ecosystem services
- Manage climate change and variability risks
- Establish support measures for social protection and diversified livelihoods
- Strategic Objective III: To enhance innovation, generation and utilization of technologies, capacities and entrepreneurship skills of livestock value chain actors
- Adopt relevant livestock value chain technologies
- Generate and sustainably utilize new livestock value chain technologies
- Create conducive conditions for the progressive commercialisation of the traditional livestock Sub-sector
- Strategic Objective IV: To enhance access to markets, services and value addition
- Improve marketing and value addition infrastructure
- Promote adoption of the value chain approach by stakeholders and implement strategies to increase total values (promoting contractual arrangements, market organisations and linkages)
- Enhance marketing information and leverage on ICT to improve access markets, services and value addition
- Strengthen capacity to develop quality standards and enforce sanitary measures affecting animal health, food safety and public health
- Improve access to inputs and services
- Promote risk management in livestock products value chain
- Encourage innovation through technology transfer, research and development for enhanced product competitiveness
As a part of implementation of COMESA Mid Term Strategic Plan, the livestock program at COMESA has implemented the following through the Reinforcing Veterinary Governance Project (VET-GOV Project) in partnership with member states ministry responsible for livestock, regional Economic Communities especially IGAD, EAC, and SADC and African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
- COMESA has established Livestock Policy Hub at regional level; a platform that guide livestock development in the region
- COMESA has supported seven Member States (Including Comoros, Congo DRC, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zambia) to establish their Livestock Policy Hub
- To bridge the livestock policy gaps, the livestock program engaged in capacity development of stakeholders in strategy development, policy formulation and implementation through Livestock Policy hubs in the Member States.
- The MS were also supported to formulate their livestock development strategy, policy and update their veterinary legislation, member states were supported in development of dairy, poultry, ruminant and apiculture development strategy including formulation of comprehensive livestock policy, update of veterinary legislation and regulation
- Madagascar was supported to study Livestock Value chain including Dairy, Large and Small Ruminant, Poultry, Pig and Apiculture, Silkworm
- Malawi was supported to study the contribution of livestock to agricultural GDP and national GDP which was used as instrument to convince government to allocate enough resources
- Major Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonosis were identified and methods to prioritize them was developed
- Trainings on the husbandry and basic animal health care were given to professionals and farmers in Mauritius which helped the country to became self-sufficient in poultry and its product.
- Control of tick- and tick-borne diseases in Comoros were supported and training on identification and laboratory diagnosis was given to animal health professional. Comoros veterinary laboratory was equipped with lab-facilities and office furniture.
- COMESA in collaboration with AU-IBAR has supported conservation and better utilization of Animal Genetic Resources and Apiculture development in our region – Apiculture exhibition was organized in Ethiopia and Rwanda
As a part of Regional Development Objectives Grant Agreement (RDOGA/RDOAG) between United States Government USAID and COMESA (2019 to 2022), the COMESA livestock program is implementing a five year project on improving the participation of enterprises involved in live animal (beef cattle and small ruminants) and meat trade in the regional and international markets. The objectives of the livestock component are as follows:
- Mapping of enterprises in exporting and importing countries and establish basic data on import and export of live animal (beef and small ruminants) and meat so as to link importer and exporter companies
- Development of regional grades and standards for live animals (beef cattle and small ruminant) and meat to facilitate or ease trade without physical presence of the purchaser.
- Development of regional standard operating procedures (SOP) for feedlot operators, Quarantine and Abattoirs to facilitate value addition
COMESA livestock program has continued partnering with development partners including EU and USAID and international, continental and regional organizations such as African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and Regional Economic Communities especially IGAD, EAC and SADC in the development of livestock sector and control and eradication of Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonosis.