Livestock Production- A target for food security in northern Ghana
An expert in livestock production, Addo Kwafo, who is also the officer-in-charge of the Animal Research Institute of the University for Development Studies, Nyankpala, has said that the livestock industry is one key area that has the potential to sustain food security in the country if given the necessary attention by government.
He has therefore called on government to change its policy towards animal production and as a matter of urgency restore all subsidies on vaccination to make the industry more attractive to farmers and the youth.
Mr Kwafo, who was delivering the keynote address at the launching of the annual week celebration of the Animal Science Students Association, an organised body of students from the Animal Science Department of the University for Development Studies, under the theme: "Attaining A Middle Income Status In Northern Region; The Role of Livestock Production," pointed out that "livestock keeping makes significant contribution to rural livelihoods through employment and wealth creation, provision of quick income to settle financial need" all geared towards poverty reduction.
Agriculture has been targeted to lead the growth of Ghana's economy to achieve a middle income-status with a per capita income of $1000 by 2015.
To achieve this goal, agriculture is expected to grow by 14 percent per annum compared with the current 7.5 percent growth rate.
This, the animal production scientist thinks, is possible "but we have to work hard to attain" if Ghana wants to achieve that status, adding "the livestock sub-sector contributes to the economy in many ways even though its contribution to the GDP and food intake of the population are relatively low as compared to the crop sub-sector."
He attributed this negative development partially to government for not paying adequate attention on the development of the sector.
According to him, "increased production of livestock will reduce the scarce foreign exchange used to import annually the large volumes of live animals for slaughter and processed animal products."
The President of ASSA, Zakaria Yahaya said livestock keeping all over the world is critical to everyday survival of the people in the society, adding that "with good management it can enhance sustainable agriculture."
He observed that the proper harnessing of the potentials in the industry "will not only lead to high foreign exchange earnings but also the provision of sustainable amount of income for the rural poor."