26 November 2012

Gambia: 'Gambia At Risk of Losing 200, 000 Heads of Cattle'

Basse — A senior agriculture officer of the Animal Health and Production Services under the Ministry of Agriculture, has disclosed that The Gambia is at risk of losing about 200, 000 heads of cattle, based on the statistics revealed by the head of the Crisis Management Centre of the Animal Health Division of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, Italy.

Lamin Saine was speaking on Wednesday at the Governor's Bantaba in Basse during a sensitisation training organised by members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Upper River Region. His comments have come in the wake of an animal health emergency declaration made by the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Agriculture.

Saine told the stakeholders that following the confirmation of a Contagious Bovine Pleuro Pneumonia (CBPP) disease outbreak in the country, the Agriculture ministry has launched the CBPP Rapid Response Task Force to look into the control mechanism and strategies to control the situation as soon as possible. Thus, he noted, that they have been assigned to sensitise the regional authorities and TAC members throughout the country.

Saine went on to explain that the disease in question, CBPP, is caused by Mycoplasma Mycoides Var Mycoides bacterium. The government, he informed, is coming up with a lot of strategies to eliminate the disease. Part of the measures to be adopted, according to him will include sensitising the farmers and to vaccinate the entire cattle population in the country.

While urging the local authorities and farmers to help them in restricting animals' movement till the end of the vaccination when it begins, Saine assured that the FAO is now helping the country in halting the disease. His said they anticipate starting the nationwide cattle vaccination by the first week of December. He however advised farmers to stop the movement of cattle from one region to another until when the vaccination is being completed.

The senior Agric officer went on to explain that T1 44 is the type of vaccination they are going to use, which he added can at least protect the animals for one year before another one is conducted.

For the governor of the region, Omar Khan, the government and the Ministry of Agriculture and partners should be commended for their foresight in helping farmers to address this predicament. He urged cattle owners to take the advice given to them.

One of the cattle owners at the meeting, Katti Baldeh, from Mansanjang Kunda, indicated the importance of the sensitisation, which he described as timely, taking into account that they are losing a lot of their cattle in this month.

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