The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has partnered government to fight trans-boundary animal diseases (TADs) to improve animal husbandry, food and nutrition among the citizenry.
The collaboration follows yesterday’s launch in Lilongwe of the project called Strengthening Animal Disease Surveillance in Malawi.
The project seeks to strengthen the local capacity to detect early, investigate and control of trans-boundary and other animal diseases in Malawi.
FAO country representative Zhijun Chen said his organisation recognises that TADs, including zoonoses, are a serious threat to the livestock sector, rural economy, food and nutrition security.
He said: “Trans-boundary animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease [FMD] and peste des petitsrumiants [PPR], African swine fever [ASF] do not only threaten farmers’, considering the impact and rapidity of their spread, but it also affect a country’s ability to trade.”
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development chief director Yanira Ntupanyama hailed the disease surveillance support from FAO as timely, saying it has come at a time when the country is struggling with FMD, among other diseases.
Said Ntupanyama: “The livestock industry in Malawi contributes about 11 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product [GDP] and 36 percent of the value of total agriculture products.
“Livestock also provides food and nutrition, income, manure, animal traction and social security. Studies have shown that households which own livestock have relatively more income and are more resilient to climate change shocks.”.
According to the ministry, between 2018 and 2019, FMD outbreaks affected 10 districts in all three regions of the country and occurred in non-traditional outbreak areas where communities had completely no knowledge of the disease.