Members of participating countries and colleagues, a very good morning to you all. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the inception workshop to launch the FAO Technical Cooperation Project (TCP/RAS/3215) Assistance on diagnosis and management of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and other swine diseases to improve swine health status in selected countries
As you well know, animal diseases inhibit livestock development and threaten food security and livelihoods of the millions of poor households. Livestock diseases have wide ranging impacts including premature death, reduced body weight and fertility, decreased yield of meat, milk and eggs, as well as reduced capacity for work. Diseases have severe effects on overall productive efficiency of animals, reducing the conversion of available feed into marketable products.
In all the six participating countries, livestock plays an important role in supporting livelihoods of poor farmers both as a source of food and income. Therefore efficient development of the livestock sector in the Mekong region and Philippines contributes significantly to poverty reduction efforts and better income distribution, directly for the single household and through multiplier effects on local communities.
Recently a number of new diseases in the region has emerged causing significant concern. In 2007 - 2008, Vietnam reported large number of deaths in pigs, believed to be a highly virulent form of Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PPRS), and requested assistance to investigate and prevent these deaths which had widely spread in the north and central Vietnam. In 2007, a similar disease problem emerged in the Philippines causing high morbidity and mortality and resulting in shortage of pork meat and economic losses. One year later, Ebola Reston virus (ERV) was detected in pigs raising concerns about food safety. Recently, the occurrence of Influenza A/H1NI virus in human in the region has raised alarms as this virus is said to contain swine flu virus types of North American and Eurasian origins. Due to emergence of these diseases there is an urgent need to develop capacity of countries in the region to accurately diagnose diseases pigs.
Pigs are an important livestock species in all six countries. Most pigs are kept on family farms and are a source of cash when large scale household expenses need to be paid. Moreover, the swine growth trend is characterized by an increased production coming from an increase in herd size. As herd size increases, the disease risk from the young animals that enter the herd increases. The problem of a young herd and endemic disease will be compounded by increasing movement of animals and the risk of introduction of new diseases. A structure of this kind demands increasingly sophisticated veterinary diagnostic capability and the application of good herd health management. It is for these reasons that FAO is providing specific intervention as described in the TCP.
This TCP is aimed at developing a capacity building programme in the diagnosis and investigation of swine diseases starting with surveillance programmes, developing a network of decentralized laboratories for the South East Asian region, and promoting information dissemination of swine health status in each country that would enable the development of a swine herd health management programme.
The smallholder pig farmers whether men, women or young people especially in the rural sector who usually raise pigs as a source of livelihood for their families will stand to benefit with increased knowledge on raising pigs. Assisting producers to respond/manage swine health problems will empower the producers to protect their livelihoods and promote their families’ well being.
The commercial sector stands to benefit as their investments are protected with improved animal health picture in the surrounding areas where their farms are located. With an enabling business environment, allied industries like the feed and, medicaments sectors are also expected to benefit from this assistance.
We hope that the TCP will contribute directly and indirectly to the broader objectives of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). FAO, in line with its global goals, strategic objectives and through the FAO Regional Asia and the Pacific’s Regional Priority framework continues to support countries whether individually or regionally, in its efforts to develop agricultural resources, capacity building to achieve food security, assisting disaster affected communities by funding and executing a variety of emergency projects in the agricultural sector.
This TCP Project is also aiming to strengthen collaboration and cooperation among the participating countries and developing a network of laboratories, disseminating information on swine health status in each country and sharing and learning from experiences in other countries.
I therefore urge the participating countries to make full use of the assistance package under this TCP to strengthen capacity of your respective veterinary services to respond to any disease emergency that might arise in the future. The officers from the Regional Office as well as from our headquarter office will be assisting you in the implementation of this project. Your collaboration with them would be most appreciated.
Finally, I wish to remind you that this project is your project as you all agreed to endorse it and commit to continue the activities once the project ends in June 2011, hence this workshop is crucial in finalizing the work plan and the way forward. Please use this time to plan wisely. I wish you a successful workshop and all the best for a successful implementation of the project.
Thank you very much.