The new Minister of Agriculture Amie Fabureh, said the Gambia loses D151 million annually, to animal diseases.
The new Agric. Minister disclosed this while presiding over the opening ceremony of the validation workshop on the Animal Health Bill 2019 and the Amendments of the Veterinary Council Act 2000.
"More than five percent of our animals are lost to diseases, and in terms of meat quantity, this is about 1,900 metric tons. This is quite significant indeed, in terms of monetary value," she said; that although its potentials are yet to be fully tapped, the livestock subsector continues to play a significant role in the socio-economic development of the country. She said the sector remains a unique source of income and food security enhancer for the majority of rural people. She said the sector contributes at least 29 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, thus giving rise to the number of people taking up livestock production, especially small ruminants and poultry, as a serious agricultural activity that brings them economic upliftment as well as sustenance.
Fabureh said despite the good attributes, the sector continues to be affected by a number of challenges such as increased threats of outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging diseases, feed and water shortage, inadequate marketing opportunities and a weak state of veterinary services. This, she said, is mainly due to the shortage of veterinarians.
"It is against this backdrop that the Gambia Government through my Ministry, endeavors to put up efforts to revive the livestock sector. We continue to engage our partners in these endeavors in the drive to create the right policies as our priority, because we cannot continue the same trend," she said; that the Disease of Animals Act 1994 as amended, is obsolete and inadequate to meet current and future challenges, as well as societal expectations. This, she noted, has been recognized by the Agriculture Ministry's desire to ensure that the set targets for the livestock sector in the National Development Plan (NDP), are met, and has led to the decision to expedite the process of getting an up to date veterinary legislation.
"Today we are validating the Animal Health Bill and my Ministry will immediately start working towards its enhancement so that it becomes Law," she remarked.
She further emphasized thus: "It will continue to support the strengthening of our veterinary services to ensure effective implementation of our veterinary legislation towards an improved livestock sector".