New in-country animal feed laboratories mean quicker processing at reduced costs

New in-country animal feed laboratories mean quicker processing at reduced costs

28/05/2019

An animal feed testing laboratory was recently built within the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock’s General Directorate of Animal Health and Livestock. With the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through a South-South Cooperation with Thailand, the lab will be strengthened for the development of improved fodder and quality testing of concentrated animal feed against several parameters – from chemical toxins to nutritionally important considerations, such as oil, protein, fibre etc.

Livestock is a key source of food and livelihood for rural Afghan households, and access to quality feed fundamentally influences animal productivity, health and welfare. Therefore, keeping livestock healthy by ensuring good quality feed to those that need it most is one of our main priorities,” said Rajendra Aryal, the FAO Representative in Afghanistan. Experts from Thailand will provide technical support by undertaking a comprehensive needs assessment to determine the required investment (i.e. equipment, capacity and cost). 

Three privately owned feed analysis labs were also established in Balkh and Kabul provinces for quality control of animal diets and pre-mixes produced. The labs are the first of their kind in Afghanistan to test against aflatoxins – a naturally poisonous substance that can contaminate food crops and pose a serious health threat to livestock and people. Additionally, the private labs provide physical and chemical feed testing services not limited to livestock and poultry feed, but also of cereal and oil crops for a vast list of clients, including local producers, FAO and agencies alike.

The lack of such facilities in Afghanistan in the past meant FAO had to ship samples abroad for testing, which resulted in processing times of up to a month and at steep prices. Improper storage units during transport or unnecessary delays would sometimes result in quality deterioration of feed. “Transporting and testing samples outside of Afghanistan takes around 25-30 days, not including transport delays and detainments during customs that could typically range from seven to 10 days,” said Ahmad Zia Aria, Regional Coordinator of FAO Mazar, in Afghanistan. “This causes serious input distribution delays.”

With the establishment of the new labs in Afghanistan, the process is quick and cost-effective. The labs have the capacity to provide test results of 150 to 200 different types of samples within three to five days. This allows FAO to reach those most vulnerable fast. “Effective in-country laboratory facilities help promote the use of locally available feed resources. Without quality feed, many farmers may ultimately lose their main source of livelihood,” Aryal emphasized.

As part of its Emergency Livelihoods Response Plan, FAO requires USD 35 million to assist 1.4 million people in Afghanistan to restore livestock production, improve their food security and prevent recovery setbacks.