The Point (Banjul)

Gambia Launches Technical Cooperation Programme

The Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO country office on Wednesday February 6th 2013, launched the technical cooperation programme on the emergency control of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in The Gambia, through an inception workshop held at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.

The objectives of the workshop, among others, were to bring together all relevant stakeholders to share with them the rationale, implementation arrangements and the expected outputs and outcomes of the emergency assistance, in order to control the outbreak of CBPP in The Gambia, including the role of the various stakeholders in project implementation.

The project, designed for emergency intervention to control the CBPP outbreak and prevent its spread, while providing significant amount of capacity-building to lay the foundation for long-term actions and sustainable CBPP control, its target beneficiaries will be cattle farmers countrywide for the emergency assistance programme, who will receive CBPP vaccination for approximately 400,000 heads cattle.

According to the official of the veterinary services, the ultimate objectives and impacts of this project are to safeguard the food security and livelihood of rural and pastoral households in The Gambia. The envisaged outcome, he added, is to contain the CBPP outbreak and minimise the rapid spread of the disease to other parts of the country.

In his welcome remark, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Alphu Marong, who highlighted the important role of the veterinary services, said the importance of livestock and crop production forms a key component, in the sense that livestock play very important role in providing fertilizers and other economic needs and aspirations for the development of agriculture. He said in combating the disease there is need for a much needed veterinary services.

For his part, FAO's country representative, Dr. Babagana Ahmadu, who expressed delight to be associated with the launch of the programme in the country, hailed the Government of The Gambia for the proactive and courageous move being taken when the outbreak of the disease became known in September 2012.

He also stated that the Government of the Gambia, through the Ministry of Agriculture and in close consultation with the FAO country office took immediate emergency measures to control the spread of the disease, which he said, is considered the biggest threat to cattle production in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the FAO country representative, in response to this emergency, the FAO country office had secured initial funding from the African Development Bank, to initiate the first phase of the vaccination campaign, covering communities in CRR and URR where the index case of the disease was found.

"As a rapid response mechanism to contain the outbreak in these affected regions and in response to this request from the government, the FAO secured funding through an emergency TCP to support emergency measures, while providing the necessary technical support and capacity-building to establish the foundation for sustainable CBPP control in The Gambia," he stated.

According to him, this assistance will be provided to vaccinate the entire national herds, among other important support activities in the TCP project document.

He further stated that the government decision to re-establish the veterinary department in January 2013 is a step in the right direction.

It will strengthen the capacity of the animal health and production services to deliver the required animal health services to the livestock sub-sector of The Gambia, he opined.

In his official opening speech, the minister of agriculture, Solomon Owens, on behalf of the government of The Gambia, expressed profound gratitude to the FAO for their timely and positive response to the request for emergency support.

The agriculture minister revealed that in order to comprehensively and effectively address the threat posed by the CBPP to the livelihood of Gambian farmers, who entirely depend on their livestock; the ministry is committed to a sustained vaccination strategy for a period of 5 years.

The sustainability of this strategy after the end of this one year TCP, however, requires mobilisation of additional resources, he said.

He stressed that the Government of The Gambia, through the Ministry of Agriculture is also committed to re-establishing and strengthening the department of livestock services with strong veterinary mandate.

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