"Listening to change": development communication video available

"Listening to change: paths of communication" , a new video produced by the FAO Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE), illustrates and promotes the role of communication in development. The short video profiles cases in Bangladesh, Honduras and Senegal and other places where communication, whether through groups, video, radio or other media, helps development workers listen to villagers, share knowledge and stimulate rural people to find their own solutions to problems.

"Listening to change: paths of communication" is available in English, French and Spanish and can be ordered from the FAO Sales and Marketing Group.

9 February 1999

African swine fever spreads to Madagascar

More than 100 000 pigs have died of African swine fever (ASF) in Madagascar.A report from the Ministry of Animal Production in the country indicated that the disease was first confirmed at the end of 1998, by which time it was widespread. More than two-thirds of the island is now believed to be affected - an area which contains more than 85 percent of the country's 800 000 to 900 000 pigs.

The origin of the present outbreak is not known, but it may have been introduced through pigs coming into Fort Dauphin by boat from the African mainland. The outbreak highlights the risk of ASF spreading outside the African continent. This is the first time that the disease is known to have occurred east of continental Africa.

An FAO-EMPRES fact-finding mission has just returned from the country. The mission discussed the ASF situation, control options and the risk of onward spread with the Government. There is no vaccine against ASF. Disease control and eradication can only be accomplished through slaughtering sick and recovered pigs and quarantining herds at risk.

5 February 1999

Desert Locust Bulletin 244 released

The Desert Locust situation remained calm in January except for a small outbreak that continued in northern Sudan where control operations were in progress against hopper bands and swarms, according to the latest bulletin. Any adults that escape from this areas are expected to move east to the Red Sea coastal plans where only insignificant populations have been reported so far. Good rains fell in some places along the coastal plans, breaking a two-month dry spell. This should allow additional breeding to occur.

Elsewhere, small groups of adults were detected and treated in southeastern Libya. No other significant infestations were reported.

Desert Locust Bulletin 244 reports on the general locust situation during January 1999 and provides a forecast until mid-March 1999.

5 February 1999

Genetic resistance to African Swine Fever under investigation

Anecdotal evidence that there are pig populations in Africa with genetic resistance to the devastating African Swine Fever (ASF) has not been proved so far. But such resistance could offer a lifeline in the costly and deadly battle against a disease that is sweeping through pig farms across the continent - leaving thousands of animals dead of the disease, or slaughtered in the drive to stop its spread. It has also spread beyond Africa in the past.

Geneticists and veterinary experts from six countries met at FAO headquarters in Rome in early January and drew up an action plan, first to determine rapidly and conclusively whether or not there is a genetic basis for resistance to ASF, and if so, how best to use this to assist farming communities. Rapidly advancing molecular genetic tools will be key to this work. The investigation highlights the importance of understanding the value of and safeguarding domestic animal biodiversity. (Go to Domestic Animal Diversity Information System.) ASF resistant pigs may not be favoured by some livestock farmers today, but they could hold the solution to a deadly and devastating disease.

The meeting worked out a programme to answer the basic questions within three years. The work will be done at the Onderstepoort Institute for Exotic Diseases in South Africa in partnership with other organizations. This initial phase is being supported by two FAO Divisions, the Animal Production and Health Division in Rome and the Joint FAO/IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Division in Vienna. But further funding will be needed to properly evaluate whether a genetic solution could provide at least part of the answer.

29 January 1999

New World Screwworm in the United Kingdom

A case of New World Screwworm (NWS) - a deadly parasite with the potential to devastate livestock industries - was diagnosed in London just before Christmas 1998. A sample of larvae taken at London's Hospital for Tropical Diseases from a woman who had recently returned from a visit to Trinidad were identified as NWS.

NWS is currently confined to the tropical and subtropical Americas. An outbreak in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya between 1988 and 1992 focused world attention on the risk that this dangerous parasite could establish itself outside its natural range. NWS was eradicated in Libya using the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) (go to The Sterile Insect Technique ). The same technique was used to eradicate it from the United States, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Curacao, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The threat of transboundary reinfestation into free areas is a constant and underestimated danger, and will not decrease until NWS is eliminated from the Caribbean and South American regions.

26 January 1999

AG21 spotlights dangers of intensifying livestock production

AG21, the online magazine of FAO's Agriculture Department, has spotlighted the dangers of the global trend towards intensifying livestock production in two articles on the subject. Intensive production of animals may meet market demands but "the hidden costs of such systems cannot be ignored", according to a viewpoint piece by FAO experts Brian Hursey and Jan Slingenburgh. These costs include the consequences of demanding huge feed imports from developing countries, environmental degradation, concerns over animal welfare and the emerging diseases that affect humans and animals.

A companion piece looks at livestock production in Asia, where "rapidly increasing demand for livestock products, together with the changes in international trade, is placing pressure on [the] livestock sector both to expand and adapt". The article considers the many implications of the changes that are taking place, from the urbanization of livestock production to the trend away from multi-purpose to single-purpose animals.

19 January 1999

Meeting of Committee on Commodity Problems reviews impact of Uruguay Round

The 62nd session of the Committee on Commodity Problems met in Rome from 12 to 15 January 1999. The changing world agricultural commodity situation and outlook, including projections to the year 2005, and the impact of the Uruguay Round on agricultural markets were reviewed. The meeting also examined the trade situation of small island developing states and FAO's Strategic Framework 2000-2015.

15 January 1999

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