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An annual loss of $5 billion in Africa’s food market has been attributed to an insect

An annual loss of $5 billion in Africa’s food market has been attributed to a ravenous insect
  • The tsetse fly epidemic in Africa spans 10 million square kilometers, impacting meat production. 
  • Drug-resistant tsetse fly strains have emerged in 21 African countries. 
  • Without effective disease control measures, Africa's meat sector may fall short of its growth target of 14.7 million metric tonnes by 2029.

Africa's ability to produce meat is negatively impacted by the tsetse fly epidemic, with losses of up to $5 billion yearly.

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According to the most recent data from the African Union-Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the illness has affected an area of around 10 million square kilometers, of which about a third is pastureland where animals could typically produce more meat.

“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. This is a major threat to controlling the disease; it is also a major threat to the continent's economy,” the report reads in part.

The information was released in conjunction with the 36th International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control Conference, which was held recently in Mombasa, Kenya.

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If individual nations do not implement disease-fighting strategies, the meat sector may fail to meet its growth objective of 14.7 million metric tonnes by 2029, up from the present 12.2 million metric tonnes.

Prof. James Wabacha, a specialist in animal health at AU-IBAR, emphasized that because millions of people rely on livestock for food, immediate action is required to maintain food security and to fulfill the Lomé Resolution's commitment to eradicate tsetse fly in Africa in order to satisfy meat production goals.

According to Prof. Wabacha, the illness affects more than 10 million square kilometers and 38 nations, claiming 50,000 deaths each year in Africa, with 1,000 new cases expected in 2022. “The insect puts around 50 million cattle at risk, with 35 million trypanocide doses used and three million cattle deaths reported annually,” the professor said.

According to figures from the African Union, between 30 and 80% of Sub-Saharan Africa's GDP is attributable to livestock.

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