One of the major challenges in the global fight to prevent and control HPAI is how to ensure the best possible level of safety in the poultry farming or production process. Safe poultry production is key to minimising the negative impact of avian influenza outbreaks, whether direct through loss of animals to the disease itself or culling, or indirect through fall in demand for poultry products.
FAO's approach to combating avian influenza includes a strong technical component on production practices, based on evaluation of existing systems and guidance on pro-poor, sustainable measures that ensure the safest possible environment for raising poultry.
Implementation of good husbandry practices for safe poultry production requires joint efforts by national and local authorities and communities, animal health workers, agriculture and veterinary health authorities, farmers and other stakeholders, including consumers.
At the same time, better understanding of the specific situation of the different poultry sectors and market chains is fundamental to developing appropriate control measures and improved biosecurity, paying particular attention to how and to what extent local communities should assume responsibility.
The overall objective is to develop and consolidate improved poultry production systems using techniques and farming practices that prevent the avian influenza virus from entering, spreading within or leaving farms and production plants. Among others, this calls for:
- Sustainable use of poultry genetic resources and the conservation and expansion of biodiversity
- Activities that ensure food security and food safety, with particular emphasis on disadvantaged groups and less-favoured areas
- Serious consideration of the cultural requirements of consumers, while supporting improved ways of poultry production, marketing and processing
To accomplish this, the following activities are being implemented:
- Review of the structure of the poultry sector, poultry farming systems, the functioning of the predominant poultry market chains and their importance to producers and different stakeholders (including rural communities)
- Identification of risks and linkages along the poultry market chain (including the production, distribution and marketing of live poultry and poultry products) that may be critical for HPAI infection of poultry and humans
- Assessment of the socio-economic impact of poultry sector restructuring on small poultry producers, and guidance in formulating appropriate policy recommendations for HPAI control that respect the needs and conditions of these producers
- Strategies for the conservation and protection from culling of valuable indigenous poultry genetic resources
- Identification of opportunities for and promotion of community involvement in the improvement of biosecurity for avian influenza control and prevention strategies, and raising awareness about the disease through community structures
- Developing technical guidelines for measures to reduce health risks from smallholder poultry production and providing technical guidance for safe poultry production across various farming systems, marketing and processing facilities