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Creating regional trade opportunities through improved animal health and production: Options and implications

FMD spread dampens international trade prospects

EU, FAO and Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development officials launch FMD strategy

18 February 2016, Harare/ Bulawayo - The constant outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) dampens prospects for trade in meat and meat products as it places limitations on the level of competitiveness due to non-compliance with trade conditions thus preventing full participation in formal trade at regional and international levels.  Effective management of FMD is, therefore, essential if countries are to exploit fully the potential trade opportunities that exist with improved livestock production and health. Given the stated predicament that the government of Zimbabwe seeks to develop a comprehensive and inclusive national FMD Control Strategy with the full participation of all livestock value chain actors.

Effective management of FMD is, therefore, essential if countries are to exploit fully the potential trade opportunities that exist with improved livestock production and health. Given the stated predicament that the government of Zimbabwe seeks to develop a comprehensive and inclusive national FMD Control Strategy with the full participation of all livestock value chain actors.

FMD, a highly contagious but treatable transboundary animal disease (TAD) has recently spread into six of Zimbabwe’s eight geographical provinces. This is despite government efforts to control the disease outbreaks through enforcement of strict livestock movement and mass livestock vaccination campaigns. The situation is exacerbated by the prevailing El Niño induced drought severely affecting the southern and western parts of the country.

Speaking at the official opening of a multi-stakeholder workshop for the development of a national FMD control strategy for Zimbabwe, David Mfote, Assistant FAO Representative for Programmes, said it was one of the organization’s strategic objectives, to increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats of crises.

“This objective aims to ‘Improve the capacities of national authorities and stakeholders for emergency preparedness and to reduce the impact of such crisis’ ensuring that ‘Uptake of standards, guidelines and practices for hazard and sector specific emergency preparedness is strengthened,” said Mfote.

The current drought has forced communal farmers to move their livestock in search of grazing and water sources, unfortunately to areas adjacent to national parks, thereby increasing buffalo and cattle contact thus aggregating the potential for spread of the disease. There is a significant risk of FMD incursion into traditionally disease ‘free zones’ and neighbouring countries, particularly Botswana and South Africa.

This current scenario presents diverse negative economic consequences. The productivity of livestock and the livelihood of farmers in affected areas have been severely depreciated. Trade at regional and international levels is barred due to non-compliance to trade conditions.

EU representative, Thomas Opperer, said FMD can erode the viability of livestock production which contributes to the agricultural gross domestic product, and it continued to spread further. As such, the EU representative said, new ways of containing FMD were needed.

“It is becoming increasingly evident that the vaccination campaigns are not sufficient to contain outbreaks – new ways need to be found to contain the disease. That's why the EU, together with the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO launched the National FMD Control Strategy formulation process at a multi-stakeholder workshop this week,” said Opperer.

Speaking at the workshop, Principal Director of Livestock and Veterinary Services, Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, said the success of any animal disease control program depended on the level of its economic soundness and participation of stakeholders, and the ministry expected the strategy to be pragmatic, based on current realities and balanced with other policy priorities.

Control of FMD vital for economic development

Effective management of FMD is essential if the country is to exploit fully the potential trade opportunities that exist with improved livestock production and health. It is in view of the stated predicament that the government of Zimbabwe seeks to develop a comprehensive and inclusive national FMD Control Strategy with the full participation of all livestock value chain actors.

Multi- stakeholder meet to develop response strategy

FMD surveillance, detection and disease reporting entrenched with preparedness and timely responses are the fundamentals largely attributed to tackling FMD. 

Against this background, FAO and the Government through the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services (DLVS), with support from the European Union (EU) held a multi-stakeholder National FMD control strategy formulation workshop in Harare on the 16 February and in Bulawayo on the 17 February 2016.  The primary objective of the workshop was to facilitate the development of a national FMD Control Strategy for Zimbabwe, by engaging relevant stakeholders, in a consultative, transparent and comprehensive process.

Contact:

Caroline  Hungwe: Communications  FAO Zimbabwe +263 (0)773 576 470 caroline.hungwe@fao.org

Sithembile Siziba:  Communications  FAO Zimbabwe  +263 (0)771 681178  Sithembile.Siziba@fao.org

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