Tsetse and trypanosomiasis control programme
International conference on increasing livestock production through the utilization of farm and local resources
The FAO helminthology programme
Animal Production and Health Division · Division de la production et de la santé animates · Dirección de Producción y Sanidad Animal
A panel of experts met at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 1 to 3 December 1993 to discuss policy and strategies for the coordination of trypanosomiasis control as an essential element for the achievement of poverty alleviation and increased food production in sub-Saharan Africa. The panel emphasized the need for greater coordination of the efforts being made by governments, institutes and funding agencies in order to consolidate and improve on the results of previous efforts at the practical field level. To achieve this objective it was strongly recommended that FAO investigate and initiate the formation of collaborative subprogramme elements in areas of common concern, such as research and development, strategy and planning and field implementation within structural adjustment programmes, in order to strengthen the overall programme. Action is being taken to implement these recommendations. A full meeting report was made available in English and French in early 1994.
Co-organized by the Government of the People's Republic of China, the China-European Community Centre for Agricultural Technology (CECAT) and FAO, this conference was held in Beijing, China, from 18 to 22 October 1993. Three international organizations - CECAT, FAO and the International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA) - and more than 20 countries were represented, with 30 foreign experts and about 120 participants from China in attendance. The sessions were dedicated to the evaluation of crop residues as feed and their treatment, feeding techniques including biotechnological aspects, alternative feed and related aspects of farming systems and economics. Several internationally important experts made presentations on recent advances and on concerns for further research and development.
Thanks to an FAO Technical Cooperation Project and to other FAO projects, representatives from 11 developing countries (Cambodia, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, India, the Niger, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Viet Nam) were able to participate. They delivered papers and contributed significantly to turning this meeting into an excellent South-South cooperation forum, where much could be learnt from the impressive results achieved by China in the last few years. Participants were selected on an interregional basis and on the criteria that they had made an efficient contribution to the development and implementation of technologies in activities directly related to the seminar and in cooperation with ongoing or past FAO programmes in this field. A field trip sponsored by the Government of China and FAO was organized for participants from developing countries. The Province of Henan was chosen since it was one of the two involved in the successful United Nations Development Programme/FAO/China project Beef Production Systems Based on the Use of Crop Residues.
Improvement in the feed situation is a prerequisite for increased livestock production in developing countries. FAO has promoted various technologies, including the application of ammoniated fibrous crop residues. This process uses fertilizer-grade urea as a source of ammonia, which increases both digestibility and nitrogen content, enabling ruminants to eat and produce more. Three consecutive FAO projects in small farms in China have resulted in a major breakthrough: breakthrough the volume of straw and stover being treated has more than 6 million tonnes in 1992, with more than 2 million farmers applying this technology. This has resulted in the area concerned becoming the first beef-producing area in China.
During the conference, an analysis of the present state of development showed that the suitability and introduction of the (urea) ammoniation technology for upgrading crop residues in developing countries was determined by the following main factors: a surplus of fibrous crop residues and their making up more than 50 percent of the ruminants' diet; high cost and scarcity of alternative feeds and supplements; government encouragement and support; and attractive end-product prices for meat and milk.
In the case of China, the increased potential for ruminant production is fully compatible with the strategy of limiting grain use.
The most important recommendations made at the conference were the following:
· Before introducing new technologies, indigenous knowledge and traditional practices should always be considered, with special emphasis on women's involvement in animal production.
· More attention should be given to the development of integrated feeding systems based on feeds produced, processed and used on the farm (fodder trees, aquatic plants, multinutritional blocks for ruminants and sugar-cane juice for pig feeding) as a means of generating on-farm employment and of preserving the environment through the recycling of waste.
· Credit must be easily accessible to small farmers, for example, the Grameen Bank approach in Bangladesh.
· (Urea) ammonia-treated fibrous residue can be introduced into the diets of young calves as soon as they start suckling system and may be used as the sole source of roughage with limited protein supplements until slaughter. It can also be used as the only source of roughage for suckler cows and draught animals when they are not working. Large quantities of ammoniated straw can be included in the diet of dairy cows as well. With correct feeding management and supplemented with sources of easily digestible cellulose, facilitating digestion of fibrous feeds, it should be possible to include at least 50 percent of treated straw in the diets of high-yielding Friesians and more so for cross-brads. It can constitute the sole source of roughage.
· Criteria for decision-making regarding treatment or supplementation should be developed and pilot projects should be initiated in order to develop new feeding systems, particularly in the tropical zone and in areas with a vulnerable environment.
· In China, the urea ammoniation treatment of fibrous crop residues can safely be extended to other areas with similar economic resources and climatic conditions to those prevailing in the Henan and Hebei provinces. It should be tested in other climatic regions, for example, in the tropical rice-producing area, and also be extended to other countries with similar conditions.
There is an immediate need for strengthening the farmer-research-extension linkages through more information exchange, training and problem-oriented research:
· Networking of people through electronic mail should be given high priority and should be complemented by exchange visits within China and between relevant countries.
· Training in nutritional principles with regard to upgrading, supplementing and evaluating fibrous crop residues should first concern high-level decision-makers within research and extension organizations. Training is also needed in socio-economic monitoring and evaluation, in electronic means of communication and in both oral and written presentations.
· Appreciation of the contribution of research to present developments was expressed in the meeting. Further research is needed, however, and should focus on environmentally endangered areas; appropriate supplementation; adequate description of feeds; the use of multipurpose shrubs and trees (antinutritional factors, use of rumen inocula from adapted ruminants); monogastric animal nutrition as far as the use of local resources is concerned (fibrous feeds for pigs and poultry genetic variability in nutritive value and quantities of crop residues in relation to grain yields, socio-economic and anthropological aspects; practical application of animal and human urine as sources of ammonia (particularly relevant in regions where urea is not available); the use of other chemicals; making silage with crop residues and poultry litter (minimum application of water); development of simple and cheap equipment for treatment of straw; nutrient flows and recycling through farm components (effect of removing crop residues, application of farmyard manure, ploughing under or burning of straw); and the effects of fibrous crop residue ammoniation and supplementation on reproduction. Scientists should undertake on-farm trials and use feedback from farmers to define research problems. It is especially important to scrutinize the research agenda with regard to smallholders' and women farmers' perspectives. It is crucial that training and extension projects always contain research budgets.
In order to maintain the momentum created and to serve as a focal point for immediate development, training and research activities, a second international meeting is scheduled to take place in China in October 1995. The location should be a place with a different set of agro-ecological challenges than those found around Beijing.
FAO assists member countries, upon request, in improving production and productivity in all areas of agriculture, fishery and forestry. This takes place at several levels, including policy formulation and planning and implementation of programmes. In addition, FAO collects, analyses and disseminates information, providing member countries with access to some of the world's largest databases covering all of its areas of interest.
Development of projects and programmes in livestock production and health is the responsibility of the Animal Production and Health Division which has three services, the Animal Production Service, the Meat and Milk Service and the Animal Health Service. The latter is at present undergoing a process of restructuring and in the future will consist of the Veterinary Services Group, which will be responsible primarily for the field of epidemiology, assisting in the development of veterinary services, veterinary education and disease information systems; the Parasitic Diseases Group, which will be responsible for all aspects of parasite control including tsetse and trypanosomiasis, ticks and tick-borne diseases and helminths; and the Infectious Diseases Group, in charge of viral and bacterial diseases and diagnostic and vaccine production.
While there has been a rather astonishing increase in crop production worldwide over the last 20 years, livestock production has stagnated or even decreased in many areas of the world, particularly in Africa. This lack of progress is somewhat surprising in view of the fact that the great effort made to control the major infectious and parasitic diseases and their vectors (rinderpest, contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia, tsetse and trypanosomiasis, ticks and tick-borne diseases) has to a large extent been successful. The reasons for this lack of progress are many and varied, however, and include a number of important production-related diseases (helminth infections, reproductive disorders, nutritional factors and other non-infectious conditions) that have been neglected. Other factors in a complex set of circumstances include the lack of government incentives, weak veterinary services, erroneous price policies and the failure to understand the socio-economic background of many of the livestock producers.
FAO has been aware of the importance of helminth infections and non-infectious diseases for years but it has only recently decided to focus more on these production diseases, and to this effect created positions for two Animal Health Officers in the Helminthology and Non-Infectious Diseases Group three years ago. Since then, the main task has been to establish an FAO programme for the control of these diseases.
With only one helminthologist in the Animal Health Service, it is extremely important that input from colleagues around the world is received with regard to the importance of helminths in their individual countries, the need for basic research on epidemiology and control, the latest developments within the field of diagnostics and many other aspects related to animal health and production. The establishment of a network of individuals and laboratories through which information can be received and awareness of the economic importance of helminth infections can be promoted has therefore been a priority.
A first important step in the implementation-of this strategy was the organization of an FAO Expert Consultation on Helminth Infections of Livestock in Developing Countries. Held in Rome in September 1991, 20 experts participated in this meeting, - representing various geographical regions and fields of interests. Global guidelines were formulated, as well as short-, medium- and long-term recommendations for FAO activities. The report of the meeting can be obtained from the Animal Health Service.
Another key component is the establishment of links between FAO and well-known laboratories with activities in the fields of epidemiology, diagnosis and control of helminths. The excellence of these laboratories is monitored regularly and the network can be expanded according to the need for specific expertise. At present, the following laboratories have been designated as FAO Collaborative Centres for Helminth Infections:
· Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International (CABI), St. Albans, UK. Areas of expertise: taxonomy, information, training.
· United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Parasitology Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. Areas of expertise: immunology, diagnostics, trichinellosis, vaccine development.
· Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSRIO), Division of Animal Health, Australia (several locations). Areas of expertise: epidemiology, anthelmintic resistance, control, genetic resistance, modelling.
· Laboratory for Veterinary Parasitology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, Denmark. Areas of expertise: epidemiology, chemical and biological control, diagnostics.
Part of the strategy for gathering information on the current status of helminthology in various regions of the world was to use consultants who prepared detailed reports with recommendations for follow-up activities. Southeast Asia and West Africa were the targets for such consultancies and, together with the experience of the Animal Health Officer in charge of helminthology, this resulted in the creation of a database on the priorities and needs of the veterinary services in the countries visited with regard to the control of helminth diseases.
A number of FAO publications covering various fields and aspects of helminth infections have been or will be prepared. Distribution and impact of helminth diseases of livestock in developing countries, an inventory of activities in developing countries, was published in early 1992. With a list of more than 1000 references (1975-1990) of published research, this book can be used as a guide to past and ongoing activities and possibly stimulate collaboration between neighbouring countries. The Animal Health Service is in the process of updating these references. The list will be made available on diskette in mid-1994, with abstracts enabling scientists to perform their own literature search.
The second edition of the manual Epidemiology, diagnosis and control of gastro-intestinal parasites of ruminants in Africa was published at the end of 1993 under the modified title The epidemiology, diagnosis and control of helminth parasites of ruminants. This new edition has been expanded to cover all helminths as well as all developing countries. The French edition will be available in mid-1994.
A contract for the preparation of a similar manual on helminth infections of pigs has been signed with the FAO Collaborative Centre on Helminth Infections in Copenhagen, Denmark. Preparatory work has already started on this much-needed handbook.
A series of extensively illustrated publications on fluke diseases of livestock has been prepared for different target groups and is in the process of being translated into French and Spanish. These will be available around September 1994. Special pamphlets suitable for translation into local languages have also been prepared for extension personnel and farmers.
Of great concern to FAO is the rapidly increasing problem of anthelmintic resistance in sheep parasites, and funds have been allocated for activities that will attempt to map the extent of the problem in developing countries. A consultant from CSIRO was hired to evaluate the situation in the southern part of Latin America and a similar consultancy was arranged for selected countries in Africa during October 1993. As a follow-up to the consultancy to Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, a regional project including these three countries plus Paraguay was designed and initiated in January 1994.
From among other ongoing or planned projects specifically related to helminth infections and control, a small project in the United Republic of Tanzania should be mentioned where different control strategies for parasites in small ruminants are being tested at the village level. A small pilot project in Zambia on strategic deworming of cattle comparing non-treated animals to one group of animals treated against gastrointestinal parasites and liver flukes and a second group treated for gastrointestinal parasites only did not show any significant advantage for the treated groups. These rather surprising data are currently being analysed.
A project designed to establish the epidemiology of helminth infections and test various control strategies to measure production benefits has recently been started in Mozambique. This, together with another project designed to measure the economic impact of helminth infections on ruminant productivity in villages in Viet Nam, will reveal much-needed data on the economic importance of these infections.
FAO is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) on activities aimed at controlling zoonotic parasitic diseases. During the past-year, FAO has been involved in a hydatidosis-control project in Uruguay and is currently preparing a project proposal for a regional programme for echinococcosis/hydatidosis control in northwestern Africa.
Training is obviously an important component of FAO activities and all projects usually contain a considerable training component, which can be in the form of individual scholarships and fellowships or as workshops and seminars. A regional workshop on the epidemiology, diagnosis and control of helminth infections was recently held in Sri Lanka for participants from Southeast Asian countries. Similar workshops will be held in Africa in 1994. While current activities will be consolidated and expanded in the future, new efforts will be initiated, including support to research on genetic resistance and modelling.
This short review intentionally focuses on activities related to helminth infections, but it should be kept in mind that these diseases are only one of many animal health and production issues and should not be viewed in isolation. It is important that scientists work together with national veterinary services to establish priorities and subsequently develop disease-control programmes