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Japan, FAO hand over project for emergency support to assist small-scale farmers in overcoming bird flu and FAW

Government extension officers will be provided with smartphones equipped with the FAW Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS)
05/03/2019

5 March 2019, Harare - The Government of Japan and FAO handed over to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement a project to strengthen the capacity of small-scale farmers and Government to rapidly respond to two transboundary threats, the fall armyworm (FAW) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The project was implemented by FAO working directly with the Government of Zimbabwe. Japan contributed US$500 000 to this project which started in March 2018.

Through this project, 500 Government extension officers have been trained in 10 districts, and 500 000 small-scale farmers will have knowledge on how to cope with these threats. Furthermore, the project has also strengthened the Government’s capacity in dealing with these threats. For HPAI, an active surveillance system consisting of two Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machines will be used for the rapid detection of influenza viruses. Whereas for FAW, 340 government extension officers will be provided with smartphones equipped with the FAW Monitoring and Early Warning System (FAMEWS), a free mobile application for Android from FAO, for surveillance and monitoring of the pest.

Speaking during the handover ceremony in Harare, the Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency Mr Toshiyuki Iwado, said that given the vital role that agriculture plays in the lives of most Zimbabweans, it is necessary to protect their livelihoods and food security. He hoped that the project would go a long way towards greatly strengthening the capacity of the Government and farmers in rapidly responding to these transboundary threats.

Speaking during the same occasion, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa (ad interim), Mr Alain Onibon, thanked the Government of Japan for supporting the project which he said touched on very important aspects of livelihoods. Onibon added that FAO experts will continue to offer technical assistance to the Departments of Crop and Livestock and Veterinary Services regarding the provision of participatory FAW and Avian Influenza surveillance.

An internal capacity brought about by such high tech equipment is critical for building confidence in the poultry sector, which was at one time ravaged by the outbreak of HPAI in 2017 in Zimbabwe. Such confidence is vital in spurring investment and productivity within the poultry sector.

The funding assistance for this project has enhanced Zimbabwe’s progress towards five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are SDG 1: Reduce rural poverty, SDG 2: Zero hunger, SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, and SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth)

In May 2017, Zimbabwe experienced an outbreak of HPAI (the H5N8 strain). It occurred in a poultry breeding unit of one of the largest commercial poultry producers in the country, and resulted in 2 million birds being culled to control the disease. Poultry is an important part of people’s diet and accounts for around one third of total meat consumption.

Agriculture provides employment and income for around 70 percent of the population. With farmers in the country still struggling to cope with the effects of successive droughts in recent years, an uncontrolled outbreak of FAW or HPAI would only compound the effects on food security and people’s livelihoods.

This project has, therefore, greatly contribute to the ability of Zimbabwean smallholder farmers to cope with the threats of FAW and HPAI, thus ensuring their livelihoods and food security.

 

Contacts:

Leonard Makombe, FAO-Zimbabwe Communications: Email: Leonard.Makombe@fao.org,

Tel: +263779711777

Oliver Wales-Smith, Embassy of Japan: Email: oliver.joshua.wales-smith@hz.mofa.go.jp,

Tel: +2634250025/6/7