COMESA Develops a Regional Grading and Classification System for Trade in Animals

Lusaka, Monday, April 6, 2020: COMESA has developed a Manual for  harmonized regional grading and classification system of beef cattle, goats and sheep.

The Manual will be launched at the next meeting of Ministers of Agriculture and Livestock later this year. It will be used across COMESA Member States to facilitate trade between livestock buyers and the sellers. Under the system, livestock importers from one country can make orders in another, based on the classification.

According to Senior Livestock Officer at COMESA Secretariat Dr Yoseph Mamo, the system will create opportunities for long distance trade deals without the need for buyers and sellers to be physically present in the same market.

In developing the grading and classification system, Member States that export and import beef cattle, goat and sheep played a key role including its validation in July 2019.

Dr Mamo described the Manual as an essential tool for stakeholders to enhance their capacities for cross-border trade. Hence, adopting it will contribute to the formalization of live animal trade, enhance confidence in export markets, support the establishment of regional market linkages and information systems, and facilitate capacity building among stakeholders.

“The system will be helpful as it classifies animals according to preference of the buyer and it caters for different parameters,” Dr Mamo said.  “Member States can use it as a basis to classify different breeds of animals to facilitate trade, which is currently being conducted using traditional methods.”

He added that the initiative to develop the system was a deliberate effort to create a level playing ground for livestock stakeholders across the region.

“This will have the triple benefit of stimulating cross-border trade, institutionalizing value for money by promoting price-setting based on animal grades and classes, thus catalyzing improved animal husbandry to gain premium prices,” he added.

COMESA has the highest population of livestock in Africa and therefore huge potential for intra and extra-regional trade. This potential, however, remains largely untapped as it is predominantly informal.

The development of a harmonized regional grading and classification system is a strategic objective of COMESA Livestock Policy Framework to strengthen regional livestock value chains.

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