The 13th Multi-Stakeholder Partnership (MSP) Meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) and the Regional Conference on Sustainable Livestock Transformation, which is taking place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, started today, October 30th, 2023, and will last until November 3rd, 2023. The meeting, themed “Multi-Stakeholder Partnership (MSP) Collaboration to Address Drivers of Change in Livestock Systems”, is allowing participants to explore the drivers of change affecting livestock systems and envision innovative solutions while focusing on the four critical domains of livestock sustainability: food and nutrition security, socioeconomic considerations, health, and environmental factors.
AU-IBAR is making important efforts towards shaping the future of livestock systems in Africa, as noted by AU-IBAR’s Director Dr. Huyam Salih, who took part in the Ministerial panel and a panel discussion on the Drivers of Livestock System Transformation. She shed light on the various types of livestock systems in Africa, the issues they face, and the critical role of policies. During the question-and-answer session, she emphasised the dynamic involvement of youth, highlighting AU-IBAR's effective activities, particularly through the African Youth in Livestock, Fisheries and Aquaculture incubation Network “ALYFAIN”
Diverse Livestock Systems: A Wealth of Opportunity and Challenge
Africa has a diverse range of livestock systems, including traditional pastoralism, agro-pastoralists, private farming, and extensive commercial farming. These systems are critical not only for food security, but also for the continent's cultural and social heritage. Dr. Salih, emphasised the necessity of understanding and protecting and strengthening these systems. "Africa's diverse livestock systems are a testament to our heritage and resilience. Indigenous knowledge in Africa’s livestock systems is important especially among pastoralists. To achieve sustainability, we must connect the dots: invest in value chains, extension services and integrate modern techniques. Maintaining this diversity is critical for long-term agricultural and economic success." She said.
Challenges Faced: Navigating the Complexities
Managing these diverse systems presents numerous challenges, including climate change, disease outbreaks, and limited resources. Director Salih acknowledged these hurdles, underscoring the need for collaborative efforts. "Climate change threatens our livestock. Diseases recognize no borders. We need unified policies and strategies to address these challenges effectively," She remarked.
The Vital Role of Policy: Guiding Sustainable Livestock Practices
Policies play a pivotal role in shaping the livestock landscape. Director Salih emphasized the need for robust policies that balance traditional knowledge with modern practices. "Well-crafted policies provide a framework for sustainable livestock practices. They empower communities, foster innovation, and ensure environmental preservation," She stated.
Youth Engagement: ALYFAIN's Impact
In answer to an audience question, one of the highlights of the conversation was AU-IBAR's contribution in building livestock systems with youth through the African Youth in Livestock, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Incubator Network. She stated that the recent ended Live2Africa Project was able to be a driving force for change, encouraging young people to participate actively in livestock-related activities. "Youth are the future custodians of our livestock heritage," Director Salih said with optimism. AU-IBAR is fostering a new generation of knowledgeable, innovative leaders who will take sustainable practices ahead through ALYFAIN. Such efforts require nurturing and new collaborations to be strengthened."
Conclusion: Shaping a Sustainable Livestock Future
The active participation of AU-IBAR in the 13th GASL Meeting demonstrates their commitment to supporting sustainable livestock systems in Africa. The issues faced by various livestock systems were acknowledged, and the need of well-structured policies and youth engagement was emphasised. Collaborations through multistakeholder partnerships promise a more sustainable future for Africa's important livestock legacy as the continent moves forward.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) developed the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) in 2011. The objective of GASL is to enhance the sustainability and resilience of livestock systems by offering critical insights and knowledge. The sessions do this through a dynamic multi-stakeholder partnership model that brings together governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the commercial sector, social movements, academics, and international organisations.