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Dr. Y. Cheneau,
Chief, Animal Health Service,
Animal Production and Health Division

Distinguished Experts, Colleagues,

On behalf of the Director-General and on behalf of Dr. De Haen, Assistant Director General, Agriculture Department, I would like to welcome the experts to FAO. We appreciate very much your interest and availability to serve on the Panel of Experts on Ecological, Technical and Development Aspects of the Programme for the Control of African Animal Trypanosomiasis and Related Development. As you are aware, you are here in your technical capacity rather than as national or regional representatives. I do hope that the valuable time you are devoting to this Meeting will be useful in charting the future course of the Programme.

There is an increasing need for Africa to contain tsetse infestation and control trypanosomiasis in order to satisfy its' demand for food. On an average, Africa has a relatively small human population for its land area. However, this population is distributed very unevenly, both between and within countries, resulting in areas of very high and very low population density. Migration from rural areas is increasing the size of urban populations by up to 7 percent a year, making it a challenge to secure adequate food supplies and public services. These population increases in parts of sub-Saharan Africa will drive major demographic, social and economic changes and will transform agriculture. Urbanization will force the commercialization of agriculture and increase the overall demand for foods including those of animal origin.

Increases in the supply of livestock products do not keep pace with this rapidly growing demand. FAO statistics show that from 1970 to 1990 the annual growth in the production of meat from cattle, sheep and goats averaged only 1.6 percent whilst the production of pork and poultry amounted to 3.3 and 5.0 respectively. An overall annual growth of 4 percent would be required to satisfy the current meat demand. These discrepancies are believed to reflect differences in the ability of livestock production systems to respond to changing market conditions. Poultry, eggs, pork, and, to a lesser extent, dairy production tend to be relatively responsive to changing market forces despite the dependency on technology and inputs. Extensive ruminant production, on the contrary, only gradually moves toward more intensive methods. FAO estimates indicate that by the year 2010 out of a total sub-Saharan meat production of 8.9 million tons about one third will consist of pork and poultry meat. This proportion was 18% in 1969/71 and 28% in 1988/90. The share of ruminant meat production is declining rapidly.

Ruminant production has always been mainly confined to drier areas. The present trend is that major portions of grazing lands in arid and semi-arid zones are degrading and that more and more land areas are brought into the cultivation cycle. This poses a threat to traditional pastoral systems because of the scarcity of feed and water whilst the transformation to mixed crop and livestock production is severely limited by aridity.

However, in highlands and better rainfed lowland areas integrated mixed farming is essential as is a substantial ruminant livestock production component. There is as yet an inadequate appreciation and understanding of the dynamics of crop-livestock farming systems, which involve a great variation in cropping patterns, market opportunities, livestock alternatives, labour, technology and inputs. This applies particularly to the subhumid zone where crop-livestock farming is in early stages of evolution and will be of major importance in the future.

Here, humidity and temperature dependent vector borne and other parasitic diseases in livestock sharply reduce productivity. Disease-associated annual losses of $4 billion in sub-Saharan Africa are equivalent to about one-fourth of the value of total livestock production in sub-Saharan Africa. Direct losses from tsetse transmitted bovine trypanosomiasis alone are believed to range from 0.6 to 1.2 billion USD per annum. The balanced integration of the crop and the livestock sectors will not be practically realized in the absence of strategic interventions to contain trypanosomiasis and other parasitic diseases.

Effective animal disease control is impeded by a number of factors. The inability of many countries to maintain effective surveillance and control measures and the general lack of effective means of delivering veterinary services throughout sub-Saharan Africa are believed to constitute the main constraints. Associated with the ongoing trend towards privatisation of veterinary services and the introduction of cost recovery schemes for animal health inputs there is a growing awareness that livestock keepers and farmers themselves should play a major role in containing livestock disease.

This accords well with recent developments in tsetse control which may now involve rural communities. New techniques which are simple and environmentally friendly such as traps, targets and insecticide treated livestock are increasingly being used to suppress fly populations and restore acceptable, low levels of disease transmission. However, the effectiveness of these varies with local circumstances and preliminary indications suggest that technically and economically optimal disease control may only be obtained in and around agriculturally productive land.

Therefore, priorities and strategies for animal health and production should focus on optimal use of natural resources and the intensification of agriculture with emphasis on the development of mixed crop-livestock farming systems that will increase productivity while improving the social and economic conditions of people. The greatest immediate opportunities for increased ruminant production are recognized as being located in those portions of the subhumid zone where demographic pressure provides opportunities for a demand driven transformation of production systems and where, concurrently, physical changes in the landscape are conducive to sustainable parasitic diseases control.

In this regard I would like to call upon you, the experts, to discuss the ecological, technical and development aspects involved and advise FAO how to strengthen its efforts and so better assist member countries in the design, preparation, implementation and monitoring of programmes for the Control of African Animal Trypanosomiasis and Related Development which duly address the current issues of sustainable agriculture and rural development in sub-Saharan Africa.

I notice that the Expert Panel has a formidable array of issues to cover in the three days. I am certain that with the wide spectrum of expertise at its disposal, the Panel will take a fresh look at the Programme and come up with practical recommendations for balancing the approach to the problem and for improving interventions towards better resource utilisation in tsetse affected areas. I wish you every success in this task.

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