Africa meat output losing $5b to tsetsefly menace

Sunday October 01 2023

Employees monitoring operational data on computer monitors as they work. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK


Tsetsefly infestation is eating into Africa’s meat production output, with losses of up to $5 billion annually.

Latest data from African Union-Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) shows the disease impact extends over an estimated 10 million square kilometres, a third of which contains parts that could otherwise produce more meat as pasture is available.

“With over 2.1 billion heads of chicken, 490 million goats, 420 million sheep, 370 million heads of cattle and other economically useful animals, resistance to multiple drugs has been noted in 21 countries in Africa- Kenya included.

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“This is a major threat to controlling the disease; it is also a major threat to the economy of the continent,” reads report by AU-IBAR.

The details were published on the sidelines of the 36th the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control Conference held in Mombasa, Kenya this week.


It emerged that the meat sector might fail to reach its growth target of 14.7 million metric tonnes by 2029 from the current roughly 12.2 million metric tonnes if individual countries fail to implement policies fight the disease.

Food security

Prof James Wabacha, an animal health expert at AU-IBAR, noted that with millions of people depending on livestock for food, urgent action is needed remain food secure and to meet the commitment to the Lomé Resolution to eliminate tsetse flies in Africa to achieve meat production targets.

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Prof Wabacha said the disease claims about 50,000 lives annually within Africa and covers over 10 million square kilometres in 38 countries, with 1,000 human cases reported in 2022.

“The insect puts around 50 million cattle at risk, with 35 million trypanocide doses used and three million cattle deaths reported annually,” said Prof Wabacha.

Livestock, the African Union data shows, contributes between 30 percent and 80 percent to the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa.