IFAD: EAC dairy sector underperforms

EAST African Community (EAC) partner states have been urged to improve quality of investment in dairy products in a bid to improve the regional subsector.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) East and Southern Africa Regional Director Sara Mbago-Bhunu said on Monday that region was still grappling with malnutrition and stunting due to minimal investment in the dairy sector.

“Not only from a productivity perspective, but also from a social, nutritional and environmental returns, building farmer resilience, contributing to emissions reductions while creating jobs,” suggested the IFAD regional Director at a stakeholders’ workshop on the Pathways to Dairy Net Zero in East Africa.

She further noted that the world was off track towards reaching its Sustainable

Development Goal target 2 on hunger and malnutrition, saying at least 3.1 billion people were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021.

“The most expensive of the food groups is animal-sourced foods, priced on average at $0.87 for the daily quantity needed in a healthy diet,” she said.

Despite being a fastest growing and most dynamic agricultural sub-sector in East Africa, the regional dairy industry was still at the mercy of climate change, according to Ms Bhunu.

“Climate change is increasingly impacting the sector, with prolonged and more frequent drought conditions contributing to low livestock productivity, pasture and feed availability as well as the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers who rely on the sector,” she added.

IFAD is the Green Climate Fund (GCF) accredited entity for the Pathways to Dairy Net Zero in East Africa: Promoting Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Livestock in East Africa (PADNET) Programme.

For his part, a Development and Policy Advisor Brian Baldwin noted that the dairy sector was collectively concerned about the climate change and the importance of reducing the intensity of greenhouse gases.

He said that it was through such a reason that the private sector chose to be part of a programme that fulfils East Africa’s objectives of better production, more nutritious milk to rural and urban consumers.

“So let’s look at what we are going to give to animals, good nutritious grass that reduces methane intensity at the same time produces good supply of high fat milk to make better yoghurt and be allowed to be processed into cheese,” he added.

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