Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Mr Hiroyuki Konuma, and on my own behalf, I have great pleasure in welcoming you to Thailand and to the FAO-APHCA Regional Workshop on “Animal Feed Resources and their Management in the Asia-Pacific Region”.
This workshop is extremely timely - in fact, it should probably have been held some years ago.
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 will severely stretch 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 climate change and natural disasters, as well as from increasing competition in the use of grains between feed and bio-fuel. Animal feeding systems impact on animal reproduction, health and welfare, and the safety and quality of animal products. Ensuring access to feed in sufficient quantity and quality is therefore among key strategic priorities for livestock sector development.
The prospect of dramatically increasing demand for animal source food and consequential growth in demand for animal feed raises the question as to how these 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 strategies, 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, and how the prices are changing. Accurate estimation of feed resource availability and use would improve assessments of the environmental impacts of livestock, both through land use change and through greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock production. Accurate information on the proportions of cereals being diverted to animal feed is a critical element for assessing national and regional food security situations. Furthermore, feed assessments, including the price developments, are essential pre-requisites for developing optimal feeding strategies at various levels and thus environmental sustainability and food security.
Unfortunately, despite their strategic role in livestock sector development planning, feed 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 are challenges that all initiatives and stakeholders involved in sustainable livestock development are confronted with.
Thus, I consider this workshop is an important step towards the longer-term goal of systematically generating more and better data to support sustainable and equitable livestock sector development in the Asia-Pacific region. I am convinced that your expertise, experience and commitment will make this workshop a success and that you will chart the way forward towards a better understanding and eventually efficient utilization of feed resources in Asia.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the envisaged workshop outcomes, namely:
1. An agreed and systematic approach for:
a) conducting feed assessments,
b) characterising feeding systems,
c) generating quantitative information on compound feed and concentrate mixes and their utilization, and
d) systems for regularly updating the above information
2. The foundations for a regional initiative towards better use of feed in livestock production in Asia.
I suggest that you keep these outcomes in mind in your deliberations.
I wish to welcome once again to the land of smiles. I wish you all success in the deliberations and a pleasant stay in Thailand.