The importance of good quality animal protein in safeguarding the livelihoods of women and children cannot be overemphasized. Several attempts have been made in the past to ensure the provision of quality protein as part of efforts to ensure food security in Ghana. One such programme is the Rearing for Food and Jobs (RFJ). The RFJ is one of the five models of the government’s flagship five-year agricultural improvement programme under the theme “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ). The objective of the RFJ is to develop a competitive and more efficient livestock industry that increases domestic production, reduces importation of livestock products and contributes to employment generation and to the improvement of livelihoods of livestock value chain actors and the national economy. This model was launched in 2019 and expected to end in 2023.
Under the RFJ programme, elite stock of chickens (both broilers and layers), sheep, goats and pigs were supplied to some beneficiary farmers. For instance, 116,000 six weeks old cockerels were distributed to 11,600 smallholder farmers (30% female) throughout Ghana at half their market price. In addition, a total of 8,107 sheep were distributed to 775 farmers in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern, North East, Savanna and Oti regions and 1,290 goats were supplied to the National Goat Breeding station at Kintampo, the Pong Tamale Breeding station and 25 private farmers. Under the pig improvement model, a total of 351 pig farmers (30% females) in the Western, Western North, Ashanti and Volta regions were supplied with five gilts each and they were to pay back in kind (with an interest of three piglets for each gilt received) within two years.
In order to sustain the gains made under the RFJ programme, the government of Ghana in consultations with stakeholders identified a number of bottlenecks that can be put under two broad themes:
- Genetic improvement of local poultry and livestock species.
- Valorisation of the numerous agro-industrial byproducts as feed for poultry and livestock production.
The urgent need for all stakeholders to contribute to the genetic improvement of local poultry and livestock species for sustainable food and nutritional security, especially for rural household dwellers was identified. Under this broad area, the specific areas of priority to the Government of Ghana include the following poultry and livestock species:
- Domestication and improvement of Grasscutter farming;
- Characterization, conservation, genetic improvement and commercialization of local chicken and guinea fowl ecotypes;
- Genetic improvement of the local Ashanti Black/Dwarf pig;
- Genetic improvement of the local sheep and goat breeds;
- Genetic improvement of Ghana Shorthorn, Sanga, N´dama cattle breeds and their crosses.
Additionally, feed cost constitutes up to 80% of the cost of animal production primarily due to competition with humans for the same feed ingredients. The high cost of feed is one of the biggest challenges faced by local farmers. To mitigate this problem and help drive the production cost downwards, there is the need to explore the use of locally available cheap non-conventional feed resources in animal feeding. The government of Ghana therefore places premium on the valorisation of the numerous agro-industrial byproducts as feed for poultry and livestock production. The agro-industrial byproducts and non-conventional feed resources of interest include the following:
- Cocoa pod husk;
- Brewers’ spent malt;
- Pito mash;
- Black soldier fly and other insects.
These bottlenecks when fully addressed will optimize and sustain the gains of the RFJ.