Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture in-charge of Crops, on Tuesday said Ghana is still a net importer of livestock products as it is yet to meet the growing demand for animal protein.
He said the country?s total imports for all different types of meat products amounted to 122,446 metric tons in 2012 while its local slaughter figures for livestock at the slaughter houses that same year stood for 31,809 metric tons.
Dr Alhassan, who was launching the National Livestock Policy Hub to reinforce the Veterinary Governance (VET-GOV) in Africa programme, said the meat slaughter statistics indicate a huge deficit of local meat production for consumption.
?In 2012, Ghana imported a total of 23,622 cattle from neighbouring countries for slaughter as compared to 9,384 in 2011. A total of 19,488 sheep and goats were also imported into the country for slaughter in 2012,? he said.
The National Livestock Policy Hub is a multidisciplinary group formed to ensure broad stakeholder participation in the livestock policy process and currently 54 African countries are participating in the programme.
The Ghana Livestock Policy Hub has the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as the overseer and the Deputy Minister in-charge of Livestock as the Chairman, while the technical committee members are drawn from government ministries, non-governmental organizations, national representatives of farmer-based organizations, women organizations, and development partners.
Dr Alhassan said it is time for the country to seriously tackle the constraints and opportunities in the livestock sector and urged the members to find solutions for the growth of the livestock sector.
He said an increased growth in the value chain of livestock sector would provide numerous jobs along the chain for the youth and women who are the most vulnerable in the society.
He said the composition of membership of the Hub from diverse backgrounds in livestock issues would enable them bring together and share rich experiences and knowledge to contribute to the livestock development agenda of Government.
The Deputy Minister said the enthusiasm of the private and public sectors as well as non-governmental organizations to be members of the National Livestock Policy Hub were very welcome.
Dr Alhassan, therefore, urged the members to see their coming together in the National Livestock Policy Hub as an opportunity to engage themselves through thorough deliberations for the common good by ensuring the provision of the needed animal protein in sufficient qualities for the people.
Dr Philip Salia, Acting Director of Veterinary Service, said the VET-GOV programme was implemented in partnership with the Regional Economic Committees (RECs), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health.
He said the Africa Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources was in-charge of the overall coordination of the programme and implementation of most activities.
He said members of the National Livestock Policy Hub were identified by participants from institutions based on a national consultative multidisciplinary stakeholder workshop held in Accra in June 2013.
Dr Salia said participants at the workshop identified issues on land tenure systems; legislation in livestock and veterinary service delivery; agriculture data collection; livestock production and greenhouse emission, and livestock investments from both the private and public sectors as constraints in the livestock sector in the country.
He, therefore, expressed the hope that the members would do their best to meet the expectations and trust reposed in them.
Dr Anthony Nsoh Akunzule, National livestock Policy Focal Point, said members are to design and formulate livestock policies and recommend them to government so as to reduce animal disease outbreaks on farms to enhance livestock productivity.
He said at the end of VET-GOV an impact assessment would be conducted to see the impact of the contributions of the National Livestock Policy Hubs to the improvement of livestock productivity in each African country.
Dr Akunzule expressed the hope that ?Ghana would stand tall when the day of stock taking comes?.
Mr Vespar Suglo, Director for Plants Protection and Regulations Services Directory, said the livestock policy hub would establish linkages with partners to develop relevant policy frameworks and guidelines to support policy implementation processes, facilitate training and workshops to promote policy dialogue, debates and consultations.
He said the increasing urge for Ghana to attain a six to eight per cent annual growth in agriculture had prompted government to embark on a number of food and agriculture policies aimed at modernizing agriculture for accelerated sector growth.
Mr Suglo, however, noted that the implementations of those policies and strategies had resulted in only marginal increases in livestock productivity, which he said called for policy research to provide evidence-based information for re-targeting of strategic measures for result-oriented interventions.