Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Chumpol Silapa-acha,
Your Excellency, Dr. Teera Wongsamut, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand,
Dr, Bernard Vallat, Director-General of OIE,
Mr. Attila Nyitrai, Deputy Head of Delegation of European Union, Thailand,
Distinguished guests, participants, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome to Thailand.
On behalf of FAO, I wish to welcome you all to this FAO/OIE Global Conference on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Control.
First of all, I wish to express our gratitude to the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand for his valuable presence today to open this extremely important global gathering. I also wish to convey our deep gratitude to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand for hosting this conference in Bangkok, the city of smile of angels.
This conference is organized very timely when livestock diseases are occurring increasingly across the globe. The recent FMD outbreaks reported world-wide demonstrate that animal diseases indeed have no boundaries and can have a devastating impact on animal productivity, health, trade and overall national economy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Livestock play an important role in supporting the livelihoods of poor farmers, traders, laborers and all those associated in the value chains throughout the world, especially in developing countries. This is because livestock have a variety of characteristics that make them important contributors to sustainable economic, social and environmental development. They provide nutrition to farm families, produce marketable and nutritious products to consumers, and are generally of higher value and less vulnerable to critical harvest timing than many crops. Livestock are also productive assets such as for plowing and indirectly as a family assets and store of wealth for future investment. Finally, they would contribute to soil fertility and recycling of farm residues and wastes.
In next 40 years, meat production is expected to increase over 70 percent to cope with rapidly growing demand, especially in newly emerging middle income countries. The demand for high value livestock commodities would also grow by 6 to 8 percent annually in certain parts of the world. Hence, many livestock farmers can benefit directly from the increasing demand for livestock products. The poor can also benefit from the fact that the growth in livestock sector would create more employment, demand for labor, support the job growth in feed and processing industries, and promote food security through stronger supply which may lead to lower prices for food of animal origin.
However, small livestock farmers and even larger producers have been facing increasing risks due to the heavy burden imposed by animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The adverse socio-economic impacts of FMD are significant, particularly in developing countries where the livestock sector shapes prospects for economic growth, poverty alleviation and food security. FMD can prevent the access of a country’s livestock and livestock products to higher value markets and this loss of trade opportunity can be significant. The impact of FMD falls disproportionately on poorer sectors of the population in the form of production and marketing losses and reductions in household income. You may recall the sever outbreak in United Kingdom in 2001 which resulted in direct and indirect economic impact of US dollars 30 billion. Most recently, FMD outbreaks in Japan and Republic of Korea caused tremendous economic losses. In 2011, for example, in addition to those reported in Africa, Middle East, and other regions, there were 1930 FMD outbreaks reported from 13 Asia countries alone.
Indeed collective action to control and eradicate FMD is a must. This global conference, therefore, aims to harness collective action by gathering the FMD experts, country policy makers and its frontline animal health and production management staff to contribute to the conceptualization and construction of cost effective approaches to FMD prevention and control. The Conference will also contribute to reviews of regional challenge, updates and analyses of ongoing regional efforts, as well as describe important advances of tools and methods that can be placed at the service of a global and regional FMD control strategy.
As in the past, successful disease control efforts, our collective action have yielded several important institutional and operational lessons which could be applied in defeating FMD. Open dialogue, sharing of experiences, good co-ordination and trust between partners will be our keys to success. Partnerships that can translate into networks of experts and country clusters working towards the same goal will harmonize control efforts and achieve efficient use of resources. Community involvement is a core component of any programme and should be ensured from inception through to completion and evaluation. Finally, political and financial support are important factors to ensuring success to FMD control.
FAO recognizes that it is a continuing challenge to maintain the core capacity and capability of the animal health services to respond to FMD outbreaks and other diseases. Hence it believes that improving the governance of animal health systems is the most effective response to prevent diseases and execute actions. FAO therefore appreciates very much that this principle is shared by our partners and donors. I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for their support and valuable partnership to work closer as a team to meet our common challenges and shared goals.
In closing, I wish to reiterate FAO’s commitment to ensuring improved animal health status and promoting livestock production in the region as a means to enhancing food security and improving the livelihoods of farmers. FAO will continue to play a connector role, and facilitate a dialogue between those who have the knowledge and those who need it. FAO believes that by turning knowledge into action, it is able to link the field to national, regional and global initiatives in a mutually reinforcing cycle.
Finally , I wish to thank once again the Government of Thailand, particularly, Department of Livestock Development, for their hard work to host this important event. I also wish to convey my appreciation to OIE for its continued close partnership with FAO. I wish to thank the all the participants in taking a part of this extremely important global gathering despite of busy schedule.
I wish you all a fruitful outcome from this conference.