FAO Regional Conference for Africa: Director-General highlights region’s agricultural potential, calls for sustainable livestock measures

FAO Regional Conference for Africa: Director-General highlights region’s agricultural potential, calls for sustainable livestock measures

Read in

In the context of the 33rd Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa being held this week in Morocco, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) QU Dongyu called for increasing collaboration and investment for a more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable livestock sector in the continent.

In a special event organized by the African Union Commission aimed to provide a space to exchange knowledge aimed at the effective implementation of the Livestock Development Strategy for Africa, Qu emphasized the significance of the Strategy, hailing it as a major transformation instrument to guide innovative actions and achieve the sustainable development of the sector as outlined in FAO’s Sustainable Livestock Sector Transformation vision.

He underscored the critical role of livestock in Africa, not only for food and nutrition security but also for livelihoods, inclusive growth, job creation for youth and women, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability.

Qu explained that while 60 to 80 percent of rural households in most African countries rely on livestock for various purposes, the consumption of animal-source food in Africa remains relatively low but is expected to increase by 2050. This increase, he noted, would be driven by factors such as population growth, economic development, urbanization, and dietary shifts.

Addressing the challenges ahead, the Director-General stressed the importance of implementing solutions that foster low-emission and climate-resilient livestock systems, as well as efforts to combat endemic and transboundary diseases, including zoonotic and pandemic threats. He emphasized the need for a multisectoral One Health approach to manage agrifood systems effectively and prevent future pandemics, citing research indicating the significant proportion of emergent human pathogens with animal origins.

Qu also highlighted collaborative milestones with the African Union and other partners, such as the global eradication of Rinderpest in 2011 and ongoing efforts to eradicate Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) by 2030. He called for sustained momentum and political commitment to these endeavours.

The Director-General reiterated FAO’s readiness to support member countries in controlling animal diseases and developing sustainably the livestock sector, including initiatives to strengthen feed industries and value chains.

Safeguarding African SIDS, LDCs, and LLDCs

In a speech delivered on his behalf by the FAO Chief Economist, Maximo Torero, during a Ministerial Roundtable focused on African Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), which represent a significant part of the continent, the message from Qu stressed that transforming agrifood systems in these nations is both a challenge and a hope for the region’s future.

The Director-General’s message outlined the numerous obstacles faced by Africa’s agrifood systems, including climate impacts, limited access to resources, and inequalities. However,  he pointed to the fact that across the continent there is currently a wave of innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration that is driving the transformation of agrifood systems from the ground up.

FAO initiatives in support of this transformation were highlighted, including a dedicated Office of SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs; the FAO Hand-in-Hand Initiative currently active in 33 of these nations and its annual Global Investment Forum; the FAO 1000 Digital Villages Initiative; the One Country One Priority Product Initiative; the Blue Transformation Roadmap; and Global Roadmap for Achieving SDG2 without breaching the 1.5° C threshold, among others.

In his message, QU also welcomed the recent Ministerial call to establish a SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs network with FAO’s technical support to act as a mechanism to share experiences and collectively build resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis, food insecurity, and to secure investments to scale up the transformation of agrifood systems.

Agribusiness Livestock Projects