Bushmeat and the Future of Protein in West Africa
April 21, 2014
Malnutrition—and particularly protein deficiency—remains a challenge for many poor people across West Africa, compromising or stunting the physical and mental development of millions of children. While overall nutrition has improved across the continent, sufficient protein consumption remains a challenge.
A recent issue of the West Africa Trends newsletter, a trend monitoring report from the African Center for Economic Transformation, investigated the potential for locally produced bushmeat—the common term for the meat of wild animals—to provide protein and improved nutrition for many poor households in the region. Often the primary source of animal protein for many communities, bushmeat’s demand has made the supply unsustainable, endangering the ecosystems where wild animal populations live, and potentially driving some species to extinction. To meet the demand, while mitigating the environmental stress, commercial breeding of grass cutters (cane rats), squirrels, certain types of birds, and insects are being explored. With education, regulation, and the support of the public-private sector, development of innovative breeding methods could generate a sustainable supply of bushmeat and provide poor farmers an opportunity to sell in premium urban markets, where it is considered a delicacy.