African farmers are now being urged to go digital to help tackle several poultry-related challenges that are keeping the industry from performing to its full potential
The poultry business is booming in Africa. This is mainly a result of the continent’s growing population and socioeconomic expansion, as well as a major reliance on chicken and egg as primary sources of protein by a majority of Africans. However, despite the poultry industry boom, there are several hurdles that need to be addressed to ensure that the industry is functioning up to its full potential.
For instance, only 4% of the world’s chicken products are produced by Africa. There is hence a mismatch between the continent’s chicken production and rising consumption rates. In addition to this, poultry imports have significantly increased over the years, with South Africa, Ghana and Angolia accounting for more than half of the region’s chicken imports. Moreover, poultry immunity, health and productivity are other important factors that determine the growth of the industry.
The African Union High-Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) has suggested that African countries should make use of innovation and technologies with a low carbon footprint to help enhance energy usage and resource efficiency by poultry production systems. A report published by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) mentioned that APET had been encouraging farmers to utilise innovative approaches and technologies such as automatic water dispensers, robotics, and automated feeders to improve African poultry farming.
For example, using robots during meat production can help speed up the manufacturing operations. Similarly, automating some of the routing processes of growing chickens can help boost production. Other technologies such as remote sensing can also be used to collect data to enable precise poultry production by quantifying weight and monitoring chicken uniformity. Artificial intelligence and data learning can also be incorporated into poultry farming practices to help strengthen data collection and processing by limiting human intervention. One example is the ChickTrack model, a digital tool that promotes poultry welfare by enabling science-based animal husbandry practices.
Moreover, modernising the poultry industry is possible not only through technology, but also by improving the feed quality and health of flock breeds. For example, availing universal chick vaccinations can help prevent diseases like Newcastle viruses. Similarly, intensified feed production can enhance affordable feeds at various stages of meat and egg production.
APET concluded by suggesting that the best way for Africa to meet its nutrition and food security goals would be by making the production process more efficient and ensuring that the demand for chicken meat and egg production in the continent was fulfilled.