APHCA Chairperson Mike Nunn,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the 32nd Session of APHCA here in Bangkok.
We apologize for any inconvenience involved in the last minute shifting of this 32nd APHCA session from Australia to Bangkok. We are delighted, however, that APHCA delegates will be able to participate and benefit from participation in the 15th Congress of the Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations. You have just participated in the royal opening of FAVA and after today’s business session you will have the opportunity to participate fully in the FAVA Congress which has chosen the theme of Food safety: veterinary roles for the world kitchen.
Given increasing international attention to recent concerns about adulterated milk products and the ongoing discussion on the improvement of food safety standards in the region, we consider that the theme is timely and important and I expect that you would be able to actively participate in and contribute to interesting deliberations and discussions.
Providing an increasing global population with safe and nutritious food is the principle mandate of FAO. The Organization advocates a food chain approach for food safety and quality. Within this context, APHCA’s priority emphasis on food safety is important and activities this year have focused on slaughter house enhancement and the improvement of meat hygiene in the region. This will continue to be one of the priorities of APHCA in its programme of work in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Asia will continue to be the largest growth market for livestock products over the next decade. The region is also set to consume nearly 60 percent of expected global dairy output through the year 2017.
Against this progress, we note that over the last couple of years, natural disasters such as the floods in Bangladesh and India, the cyclone in Myanmar and earthquakes in China have taken a heavy toll on livestock herds, and directly affected the livelihood of millions of livestock producers.
More importantly, we are at a crucial year, a year which is facing the simultaneous challenges of an unprecedented global financial tsunami and a global food crisis. There are increasing regional concerns about the combined impact on these crises on the livelihood of rural farmers and vulnerable communities, in addition to general concerns over food security and outbreaks of animal diseases.
Higher food prices are compelling governments to formulate policies which minimize the impact on urban poor, rural landless and other most vulnerable segments of societies. While food prices are declining from the record levels reached in June 2008, at present the FAO Food Prize Index is still as much as 51 percent above the level in September 2006. This offers opportunities for development of local agricultural industries, including that of the livestock sector.
In this connection, APHCA’s recent emphasis on smallholder dairy development was timely. Representatives of over 18 countries in the region were actively involved in the elaboration of an APHCA/FAO/CFC regional strategy for smallholder dairy development. The strategy has already attracted donor and private sector interest while countries in the region are pursuing dairy import substitutions and strengthening local supplies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Livestock development has returned to the agenda of many of donors such as the World Bank, IFAD and ADB. However, while opportunities are in hand, the challenges are diverse and complex. Inadequate animal health legislation and services, disease surveillance, and gaps in food safety inspection of livestock products combine with financial constraints to limit the region’s abilities to respond to these opportunities.
Livestock farming and the industry in the Asia Pacific region will continue to face numerous challenges in the future, not the least from climate change and other environmental pressures. In this context, APHCA should focus on positioning itself into a leadership role for livestock development in the region, serving as an advocate for both industry and policy makers, and mobilizing resources that empower governments and the private sector to strengthen sectors around the region.
We hope that you benefit from the FAVA Congress. But we also challenge you to actively contribute to discussions on how to enhance the visibility and impact of APHCA in the region and globally.
Before closing these opening remarks, I wish to thank and express my appreciation to Dr Sakchai, Director General of the Department of Livestock Development, for the continuous and voluntary support DLD provides to APHCA and to other APHCA member countries in need through the provision of drugs, vaccines and disinfectants.
Thank you very much for your kind attention and I wish you interesting and fruit full deliberations.