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Livestock Technology: Unlocking Africa’s Next Big Investment Opportunity

by Sanusi Afeez Opeyemi

Summary: Investors are not putting enough money into Africa’s livestock technology industry. This is despite its vast potential. Bridging this gap would uncover a bank of opportunities for all stakeholders involved. Read on to find out how.

Have you ever asked why the world never seems to run out of beef and milk? When a cow only gives birth once a year. The answer is improvement in livestock technology.

Closing the gap in Africa’s livestock production will make animal protein and dairy more accessible. It will also create many opportunities for investors and farmers on the continent.

In this article, we’ll explore innovative livestock technology. We’ll also cover how Africa can actively enter the billion-dollar industry.

How Big Is Africa’s Livestock Technology and Production Industry?

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This is the first thing an investor would want to know before jumping into any market. How big is Africa’s livestock technology Industry? Africa is home to approximately one-third of the world’s livestock population.

Livestock are important to many rural and urban communities. They are especially key for women and pastoralists. Livestock keepers in Africa rely mainly on cattle, sheep, and goats. They also rely on donkeys, camels, and poultry. Additionally, there’s a growing trend of pig farming across the south of the Sahara.

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Let’s take a look at some interesting figures of livestock population in Africa based on the 2022 Statista report. Africa has about 382 million cattle. It also has 2.4 billion poultry birds and 506 million goats. The continent also boasts 419 million sheep, 40.5 million pigs, and 31 million camels.

Now, it would interest you to know: the livestock sector makes up nearly 40% of Africa’s agricultural GDP. This varies from 30% to 80% in individual countries. But, the livestock industry gets only 5% to 10% of the yearly investment in African agriculture. 

East Africa has a more positive outlook. It is the most promising in Africa’s livestock technology industry. The region generates over $1 billion annually through exports. There’s no doubt a substantial market gap. This would be covered. But, only if we fix the gaps in livestock tech investments.

Global Trends in Livestock Technology Investment

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Precision Livestock Farming

With the advent of artificial intelligence. Precision farming has made its way into the livestock technology industry. Precision livestock farming is expected to hit a market cap of $6.9 billion by the end of this year and $11.2 billion by 2028. 

Precision livestock technology uses sensors, data analytics, and automation to monitor individual animals’ health, behavior, and performance. Examples include wearable devices that track vital signs, automated feeding systems, and smart barns with climate control. 

DeLaval is a livestock technology company in Sweden. It provides innovative products and solutions. These include automatic milking systems, meters, and pulsators. iCow is a mobile app from Kenya. It helps optimize livestock production. It’s another interesting and innovative example.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain brings a much-needed development to the livestock technology industry. Blockchain technology aids in food traceability. This means you can trace where your meat or milk is coming from. Won’t that be great? 

Blockchain also speeds up financial transactions. It also lowers the market entry gap for small livestock farmers. A blockchain startup called Agrichain focuses on enabling peer-to-peer agricultural transactions. It also works on processing while cutting out middlemen.

Agridigital is another blockchain company. It helps farmers set their own prices without fluctuations. It also allows both buyers and sellers to do due diligence.

Genomic Selection

This is an important livestock technology that accounts for why you are yet to run out of dairy products. Advances in genomics allow breeders to select animals based on their genetic potential.

 Here’s how it works: Farmers identify livestock with desirable traits. These desirable traits include disease resistance, growth rate, and milk production. Breeders carefully select these genes. Then, they use them to make more resistant and productive hybrids. 

Genomic selection accelerates breeding programs and produces more resilient and productive livestock.

Ways to Advance Livestock Technology Investments in Africa

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We’ve talked about the market potential of livestock technology. We also discussed some interesting innovations at the global level. Now, how do we replicate these technologies in Africa?

Need for Public-Private Partnership

Everybody has a role to play here. The government needs to come forth with attractive policies. Existing policies need to be implemented. Private companies also need to come in with their expertise and funding. 

This will accelerate technology adoption and create an enabling environment for investment. Aside from policy, it is important that the government provide an enabling environment. I do not mean tax freedom here, though that may be included. 

A good environment for livestock tech companies has reliable power. An environment with the required infrastructure. One that has the security system to support innovative livestock technology.

 Capacity building and training

Can our agritech graduates handle this livestock technology in the absence of expert expatriates?

Are we training agricultural students for the future of farming?

 As a student of agriculture myself, I would sadly answer no. The curriculum still subjects us to the pain of drudgery over the prospects of innovations. But there’s room for improvement and advancement. 

Universities of learning could partner with local and international livestock technology companies . Students should go on internships in these companies. African agricultural colleges and institutions need to understand that improvement in infrastructure begins with proper agritech education. This means equipping students to become experts before furnishing labs and workshops. 

Because what happens when you have a well-equipped livestock technology lab that not even the lecturers could operate?

Access to Affordable Credits

Finance could be a roadblock to any innovation. This does not exclude livestock technology. The government and financial firms must work together. They need to create new financing models. These will encourage investment in livestock technology.

 Innovative financing models such as pay-as-you-go systems can boost agritech investment. Aside from giving out money, there should also be a community-based accountability system. For example, cooperative farming could ensure that the money is used for the intended goals.

Establish Technology Hubs

It’s high time we had agricultural technology hubs in Africa. One of the major things lacking in our livestock technology industry is the absence of homegrown solutions and innovations.

 By establishing agricultural technology hubs, we’ll provide a platform for agritech startups, entrepreneurs, and researchers to develop and test new ideas.

Livestock Technology: Africa’s Unearthed Goldmine

Africa is always described as a nation flowing with milk and honey. The milk symbolizes its vast livestock technology and livestock production potential. It’s where maximizing our potential as a continent rich in resources begins. 

Investing in livestock technology is a step forward in ensuring kids in Africa could access the milk we claim to have in abundance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is Investing in Livestock Production Important for Africa?

Livestock contributes significantly to African economies. It serves as a source of income, employment, and nutrition to its populace. Investing in Livestock technology will improve productivity and enhance food security.

Are There Successful Case Studies of Technology Adoption in African Livestock Farming?

Yes! Examples include Kenya’s iCow mobile app for smallholder livestock farmers, Rwanda’s use of drones for livestock surveillance, and Nigeria’s Farmcrowdy, a digital platform connecting investors with farmers is another interesting example.

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