Building Capacity to Develop Mauritania’s Livestock Value Chain
In order to establish a red meat export initiative to fulfill its potential to be one of the top livestock industries, the Government of Mauritania learned from Zambia’s experience. Lessons from the study tour resulted in policy changes; some were integrated into a feasibility study. Mauritania is being positioned to attract external funding and investment for this project.
Mauritania has potential to be one of the top livestock industries in the region with traditional export practices of live animals to most neighboring countries in West Africa. The economic impact of such wealth has been marginal due to the absence of a valorization strategy. It has also been a political challenge to transform the mentality of farmers from agro-pastoral ways to industrial farming practices that generate wealth, employment, and positioning the national market in the region. The Government of Mauritania approached the World Bank Group for technical advisory support to develop a red meat project for export. The Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment & Development had then initiated a red meat project feasibility study, but the government wanted to learn from successful field experiences in Africa to ensure the project’s structural and institutional environments are aligned with best practices.
The main objective was to build participants’ capacity to enable them to efficiently participate in monitoring the red meat feasibility study, as they would become the core team of a steering committee to support project implementation. The exchange opportunity was also linked to an upcoming International Development Association agriculture operation that identified wide dissemination and integration of lessons learned as part of its sector promotion activities. Presented with various experiences and business models in Africa, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development in charge of cross-sector projects selected studying the model used at Zambeef. This company, one of the largest integrated agri-businesses in Zambia, has recorded strategic success in an environment that presented many of the same initial challenges as Mauritania.
The government selected key persons from ministries, departments, and the private sector to participate in a study tour in Zambia. The cross-sector team then identified three main areas of interest regarding read meat projects:
- Institutional and Policy: Public sector agencies, organizational arrangements and policies in place to promote and monitor sector development
- National Rural farming: Understanding practices and links between traditional farming and industrial farming
- Zambeef model: Gaining understanding of the Zambeef model for value chain integration, product transformation and commercial practices
The Mauritanians saw how sector integration and government support contributed to animal health, reproductive selection program and animal feed systems. They learned about how dialogue with national farmers had resulted in basic medical support to farmer cooperatives and partnering on project implementation for better breed and crisis management. The policy content and control systems the Mauritanians observed in Zambia were eye-opening, and indicated the need for new policies and changes in the leadership of regulatory institutions back home. There was daily debriefing on lessons learned, strategic value, and follow-up ideas.
The team returned home equipped to apply new knowledge to strengthen the red meat industry. Results included:
- Heightened awareness of participants of the importance of institutional and policy base for red meat development in the country.
- Holding a meeting with the feasibility study sponsor to discuss a work plan with to ensure that key lessons from Zambeef were incorporated in the study after the government team had submitted their report.
- Preparation and dissemination of a mission report by the private sector participants to their association members, and discussion on how they could implement ideas from the tour.
- A national awareness workshop held with over 125 participants from public and private sector to disseminate participants’ report and follow-up actions.
- Request from Government for World Bank support to address issues related to adding value in red meat production.
The important lessons worth noting from this exchange are:
- Public-private dialogue is key to secure success and ensure optimal impact of the strategic changes. Having both public and private sector represented helped in the post-tour follow-up activities in the respective sectors.
- Pre-mission and daily debriefing during the study tour keeps objectives in focus and enhances understanding of lessons learned.
- Make adequate arrangements to avoid any language challenges. Mauritania is French/Arabic- speaking, while Zambia is Anglophone.
The World Bank Group served as technical advisor and mobilized two expert consultants from each country to assist with preparatory discussions, and create a program aligned with Mauritania’s needs. They accompanied the delegation and facilitated the daily debriefing sessions. The South-South Exchange Experience Trust Fund provided US$ 29,934 to fund the activity.
- The Mauritanian Ministries of Livestock; Economic Affairs and Development; and Trade and Industry.
- National Employers Union, Mauritania.
- Rural agro-pastoral livestock associations, Mauritania.
- Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia
- Zambeef Products PLC, Zambia
Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment & Development is the sponsor of the red meat project feasibility study requested by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development of Mauritania. The agency has recruited an international firm for the study and has been working closely with various national and international partners to mobilize interest in the project.
In addition to the feasibility study and the financial interest of various stakeholders, the South-South exchange opportunity was also linked to the upcoming IDA agriculture operation that identified its wide dissemination and integration of lessons learned as part of its global livestock sector promotion activities. IFC has expressed financial interest in the red meat project and has been interacting directly with AAAID while waiting for the feasibility report. The Regional Sahel Pastoralism Support Project financed the dissemination workshop and will undertake follow-up activities.
From Mauritania, we had:
- Mohamed Yahya Dida: Deputy Director, Investment Department, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development
- Mohamed Hanine: Technical Advisor, of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism
- Ahmed Abdallahi: Permanent Secretary in charge of livestock, Employers Association
- Kane Hamady: President, Pastoralists Association of Mauritania
- Oumar Fall Mohamed: President, Butchers Association of Mauritania
- Haroune Sidatt: Private Sector Development Consultant, World Bank
On the Zambian side, the Mauritanian delegation met with:
- Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Section
- Technical Training Institution on Animal Health
- National Association of Farmers of Zambia
The highest impact was probably on Mohamed Yahya Dida from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, who understood the importance of quality standards and supervision of product process as an integral part of branding. The fact this combined strict controls and ongoing dialogue to build strong partnership all long the value chain was a critical lesson for him. said during the final debrief, “I am amazed by how important civil society, community and private sector are critical pillars in the control process in Zambia; usually, people cheat and act so unethically and yet with such policy orientation, they managed to find champions and build consensus around the brand like a national emblem.”
Walter Roods, General Manager, Novatek Zambeef, remarked, “I am amazed to see the livestock potential of Mauritania because I thought it was a desert; I see the potential and there could be viable business partnership options to assess moving forward.”