Comesa develops harmonised manual for livestock production, trade

THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has developed a manual for harmonised regional grading and classification system of beef cattle, goats and sheep.

Under the proposed system, livestock importers from one country can make orders in another, based on the classification. The move is expected to add value and unlock wider opportunities for the region given that Comesa has the highest population of livestock in Africa. This thrust also presents huge potential for intra and extra-regional trade, which, remains largely untapped as it is predominantly informal.

The manual is set to be launched at the next meeting of Ministers of Agriculture and Livestock later this year and will be used across Comesa member states to facilitate trade between livestock buyers and the sellers.

A senior livestock officer at the Comesa Secretariat, Dr Yoseph Mamo, said the new system will create opportunities for long distance trade deals without the need for buyers and sellers to be physically present in the same market.

In developing the grading and classification system, member states that export and import beef cattle, goat and sheep played a key role including its validation in July 2019.

Dr Mamo described the manual as an essential tool for stakeholders to enhance their capacities for cross-border trade. Hence, adopting it will contribute to the formalisation of live animal trade, enhance confidence in export markets, support the establishment of regional market linkages and information systems, and facilitate capacity building among stakeholders.

“The system will be helpful as it classifies animals according to preference of the buyer and it caters for different parameters,” Dr Mamo said.

“Member States can use it as a basis to classify different breeds of animals to facilitate trade, which is currently being conducted using traditional methods,” he said.

Dr Mamo added that the initiative to develop the system was a deliberate effort to create a level playing ground for livestock stakeholders across the region.

“This will have the triple benefit of stimulating cross-border trade, institutionalising value for money by promoting price-setting based on animal grades and classes, thus catalysing improved animal husbandry to gain premium prices,” he added.

The development of a harmonised regional grading and classification system is a strategic objective of Comesa Livestock Policy Framework to strengthen regional livestock value chains.–

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