THE UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has pledged more support to the government to improve the animal health system within the country.
FAO Country Representative Mr Fred Kafeero made his pledge in Dar es Salaam this past Wednesday at the first annual meeting of the Tanzania Animal Health Surveillances Network (TANSNet).
"I'm pleased to inform you that FAO will continue supporting TANSNet as part of its overall commitment to contribute to the improvement of the animal health system, by extension the livestock sector, in the country," he said.
Mr Kafeero said that animal diseases were among major constraints holding back production and productivity of the livestock sector, citing zoonotic animal diseases as the most serious threats to human health.
He told the meeting that effective prevention and control of animal diseases were also critical to protecting humans from endemic, emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases.
Mr Kafeero also said that the UN agency would work with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries -- through its USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threats Programme - to enhance the capacity of frontline disease reporting agents through training and provision of tools such as smartphones and computers used for data capture and analysis.
The programme is currently working to improve the prevention, early detection and rapid response capacity of animal health systems to address health risks at the livestock-human-wildlife interfaces.
"FAO recognizes the efforts of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania in identifying the livestock sector as one of the key sectors for achieving Vision 2025 and a driving force to fuel its commitment in the fight against poverty and food insecurity, in this regard, FAO fully supports the vision and aspirations of the Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative 2015," he said.
Opening the meeting, the ministry's permanent secretary, Dr Mary Mashingo, commended the FAO support to the government in general, and the ministry in particular, assuring commitment to ensuring continued partnership with FAO and other development partners.
Dr Mashingo said that the government was taking positive measures to ensuring improved animal health systems across the country. The livestock sector has a significant contribution to achieve the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which aspires to end poverty, hunger and malnutrition by 2030 while sustaining our natural resources.
Livestock is directly or indirectly linked to all 17 SDGs but faces multiple challenges to fully unlock its potential and achieve sustainability. It's believed that the main challenges for low performance of the livestock sector include, among others, shrinking of grazing lands, low efficiency, reliance on traditional farming systems, poor market infrastructure and diseases