Working paper 23 - Beef and Dairy Cattle Improvement Services: A Policy Perspective

Author(s):  Gamba, Paul

 

Introduction

The current trend in the Livestock industry particularly the beef and dairy sub-sectors, is more inclined toward tapping the opportunities presented by the export market especially within the region. Some forays into the export market have recently been made but concerns exist as to the ability of the Livestock industry to confront the challenges presented by the highly competitive export environment. One of the available channels to confront increased competition is through improved productivity and ultimately lower production costs.

In the Livestock industry, the most cost effective and assured means of lowering production costs is through the development of a vibrant and efficient livestock improvement service capable of providing and sustaining superior breeding stock. For dairy, this was recognized and implemented in the pre and early post-independence period when the dairy sector was accorded high priority through heavy Government involvement in service provision.

However, with the advent of reforms and subsequent liberalization of the economy, the Government could not continue to engage in the provision of services that were, at the time, clearly considered the domain of the private sector. Efforts by the government to off-load livestock improvement services to the private sector have produced extremely varied outcomes in different parts of the country. Some areas have developed a reliable private sector driven livestock improvement service since the withdrawal of government whereas in other areas, the services have just but collapsed. The collapse of livestock improvement services in such areas has occasioned reversion to previously abandoned and inferior services resulting in reduced productivity and loss of genetic diversity.

The mixed results obtained from the liberalization efforts have brought forth new challenges and the need for a re-examination of the livestock improvement services industry. This will provide for a consolidation of gains in the areas where the private sector has taken off. On the other hand, it is equally significant to re-asses and slow down the rapid decline in areas where the private sector has encountered constraints in taking up livestock improvement services by identifying and pursuing successful models to stem the tendency for policy reversal in view of privatization of services.

As a result of these experiences, the Strategy for revitalizing Agriculture (SRA) recognizes the need for improved access to quality inputs among which is Livestock improvement services.


Accordingly, this study had the following objectives:


· Examine the state of livestock improvement services with respect to dairy and beef cattle
· Examine the prospects for re-aligning livestock improvement services and the necessary adjustments for a competitive livestock industry
· Explore viable options in livestock improvement service provision that are consistent with a liberalized market economy.

 

Beef and Dairy Cattle Improvement Services: A Policy Perspective