FAO-APHCA delegates urge FAO to form an Asia-Pacific Animal Feed Network
Participants of the recent regional workshop on Animal Feed Resources and their Management in the Asia-Pacific Region held in Bangkok from 13-15 August 2013 urged FAO and APHCA to build on the momentum generated by the workshop and to initiate formation of an Asia-Pacific Animal Feed Network.
Increases in population and disposable income in Asian countries are driving an unprecedented rise in demand for food of animal origin, i.e. meat, milk and eggs. This rapidly growing demand is severely stretching the capacity of existing food production and distribution systems with major implications for natural resource use and consequential environmental, health - both animal and human - and socio-economic impacts.
Feed is the foundation of the livestock production, with feed costs generally accounting for up to 70% of the cost of production. Feed prices have been increasingly volatile due to negative impacts of natural disasters and climate change, as well as from increasing competition in the use of grains between feed and bio-fuel.
The prospect of dramatically increasing demand for animal source food and consequential growth in demand for animal feed raises the urgent question as to how these growing feed requirements can be met, particularly in land-constrained countries and regions, and in the face of the growing food-feed-fuel competition.
In order to better monitor and guide national and regional livestock sector development, it is essential to develop systematic approaches to accurately assess livestock feed supplies and to obtain better insight into how these feed resources are being utilized.
Unfortunately, despite their strategic role in livestock sector development planning, feed assessments and balances are not usually available and where available, they tend to be rather inaccurate. Sub-optimal input data for country-level food/feed input-output analyses and the inability to accurately assess environmental impacts of livestock production are challenges that all initiatives and stakeholders involved in sustainable livestock development are confronted with.
Against this background, delegates representing 13 countries at the FAO-APHCA workshop suggested to form an ‘Asia-Pacific Animal Feed Network’ (APAFN) under the auspices of FAO-RAP / APHCA. The network would (i) produce regularly updated feed resource inventories, (ii) characterize and map feeding systems, (iii) assess and forecast feed demand and supply, (iv) monitor prices and trade of feed and feed ingredients and (v) develop guidelines on feed resource management.
In addition, the delegates identified knowledge gaps in feed assessments and characterization of feeding systems for their countries. Discussions were held on methodologies and approaches to conduct feed assessments and characterize feeding systems. An agreed set of methodologies was arrived at for future use. The country representatives agreed to complete the feed assessment and characterization of feeding systems for their respective countries by November end 2013. These will be published in early 2014.