FCFA 60 billion already disbursed by the World Bank for the enhancement of livestock production in Cameroon is such a huge amount that can transform an economic sector if well managed.
The signing yesterday in the capital, Yaounde, of agreements with commercial banks to obtain additional amount in a bid to enhance livestock production in the country is something worth appreciating. This move constitutes a serious component in the whole gamut of livestock production in Cameroon.
As experts have always recalled, the future of any operation aimed at improving dairy as well as poultry farming depends so much on a successful programme, that which emphasizes efficient and cost-effective methods of production.
This implies that factors that directly or indirectly increase production cost and/or reduce output must be minimized. One major constraint to dairy production in Cameroon is the general practice of extensive cattle rearing characterised by grazing of cattle on low-quality unmanaged pastures.
The results have been highly mitigating. Animal productivity (milk yield and weight gain) is low not only because of the low nutritive value of the local pastures, but also because of uncontrolled stocking rates that result in over- and under grazing.
This is surely not the first time government is acquiring money to inject into private sector-driven projects but if it succeeds it will certainly go down the country's history books considering the number of failures recorded in the past for similar projects. This is why, it is important to identify some of the ills that compromised the success of earlier projects and work hard to avoid falling into those traps. Livestock and poultry farming are such a delicate activity that serious care needs to be given to.
Actors in this sector are quite aware of this. They are aware they are dealing with living things that need to be fed, prevented from disease attacks and constantly followed up. For this reason, beneficiaries of the assistance equally need to be followed up to ensure success.
It is imperative to closely guide them especially now that poultry farmers are just coming out of the shock of Avian Flu. The epidemic which attacked the sector in 2016 to 2017 left untold consequences including a total lost evaluated at about FCFA 16 billion.
One important thing to note is that the commercial banks have accepted to be part of the bit to rescue the livestock sector from collapse. We are talking here about banks which for several years have refused or participated timidly in financing the economy. We are talking about a group of business institutions that will not take pleasure in seeing their resources go down the drain.
Now that the money is available for support to farmers, it will be important to carefully select those who are members of farmers' groups and who manifest the will to take their small projects to the end. Perhaps the best way will be to solicit the intervention of experts in the sector who will ensure rigorous execution of the project presented for financing.