LOMÉ, May 15, 2017-Although it is home to 13 percent of the global population, Africa provides just 4 percent of the world’s poultry products. The average African eats one egg every five or six weeks, while the average Japanese person eats eggs almost daily. The same holds true for poultry meat consumption. In one year, the average African consumes only 3.3 kilograms of poultry meat, compared to 28 kilograms for the average French person, and 14 kilograms worldwide. Poultry products remain a luxury in many sub-Saharan African countries, despite substantial animal protein needs. The Regional Center of Excellence in Avian Sciences (CERSA) of the University of Lomé in Togo is seeking to reverse that trend. Established in 2014 under the World Bank-financed African Centers of Excellence Project, CERSA aims to revolutionize the poultry industry in West and Central Africa. “Rather than viewing these shortcomings as a problem, they should instead be seen as an opportunity, because we are seeing that there is enough room to take the industry forward,” enthused Professor Kokou Tona, the Center’s director. Professor Tona believes that a lack of adequate financing, the dearth of high-level technical expertise, and input-related problems are the three factors hobbling the development of Africa’s poultry sector, noting that poultry feed accounts for 70 percent of poultry production expenses. “Even chicks are imported because this is showing us that we haven’t yet mastered large-scale production of these chicks, as egg transportation costs are prohibitive, almost double the cost of the eggs themselves,” explained Professor Tona. In a bid to curb this dependence on other countries and address these challenges, CERSA is offering three levels of training to produce:Doctoral-level experts in avian sciences,Masters-level specialists with a sound overall knowledge of the industry, andPoultry technicians, who will be able to identify technical problems at the practical level and call on specialists and experts to resolve them.
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