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Animal Health
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News & features archive, 2010

Value chain analysis as a tool for avian influenza control

© FAO/A. Haymen

29 September 2010 - Linking value chains and animal health makes intuitive sense. A value chain links a range of activities and processes to bring products from conception to consumer. The analysis and mapping of value chains is now being used as a tool for animal disease risk management because it provides an understanding of the social and economic contexts within which animal diseases evolve and manifest.

Linking value chains with epidemiological analyses can allow for improved and targeted animal disease risk management because their combination facilitates the viewing of interactions between animal, pathogens, people and systems. In the past, preliminary studies on poultry chains and highly pathogenic avian influenza have identified certain units as being risky, such as producers with poor biosecurity and live mixed-bird markets with inadequate hygiene practices.

Once a value chain has been mapped, a systematic identification of critical risk points ensues, followed by enumeration and the development of possible animal disease control and management measures to be applied to bring risk(s) down to an acceptable level. Furthermore, these critical risk points are intimately linked to people, and so their incentives, motivations and practices can be studied within their specific position in the chain and respective risk profiles. This understanding of collective and individual decision making assists animal and human health officials to develop socially-coherent and cost-effective interventions for improved food security and food safety.

In view of the applicability of this method to animal diseases in different contexts, a sequence follows herewith: (1) mapping the value chain, (2) identification of critical risk points along the chain, (3) identification of people and networks involved at risk points, (4) categorization of risky practices, incentives and motivations, (5) identification of entry points for animal disease control and management interventions, (6) assessment of costs and investments of proposed interventions, and (7) estimation of expected impacts of interventions applied.

The Animal Production and Health Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) undertakes value chain analysis and mapping in order to clarify feasible and viable options to address high-impact transboundary diseases that are emerging and re-emerging around the world. It will continue its work to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to economic growth.