By: Kebba AF Touray
Dr. Demba NA Trawally, the Deputy Director of the National Research Institute (NARI), told the joint committee on Agriculture and Health that under current circumstances, the Department of Livestock Service (DLS), is incapacitated in performing its functions. Dr. Trawally said this yesterday 26th January 2023, during his appearance before the joint committee on Agriculture and Health, for the submission of their position paper on the proposed 2020 Animal Health Bill, to the said committee.
According to Dr. Trawally, the DLS is incapacitated in performing its duties both as a service provider to livestock farmers and a regulator of the movement of livestock and livestock and veterinary products such as meat, diary, drugs, feed etc., within and into the country, all at a time when the world is full of unscrupulous value-chain actors. He asserted that the bill if enacted, will also improve the sanitary and zoo-sanitary standards of livestock markets, slaughter facilities, meat stalls and other outlets of livestock products, in order to meet national food safety standards as contained in the Food Safety Act 2005.
Dr. Trawally told members that veterinary service in the country is mandated to prevent and control livestock diseases in the country’s national herd and other herd health related matters. The service he said has been struggling to meet its functions, within the confines of the obsolete Animal Diseases Act-1994.
“The Act has become obsolete in the face of a rapidly changing world in terms of priority needs and climate change, and in meeting food safety, security and compliance with international standards,” he said. He told committee members that to address these uncertainties and future developments in an adequate way, a bill that acknowledges the uncertainties and complexities of livestock services is indispensable. The review he said was made considering the complex interactions between socio-economic factors, political development, climate change and the global context with the objective of producing a new robust version, in the face of a changing livestock sub-sector and climate.
“The advocated Animal Health Bill 2020, currently being reviewed by NAMs, has a holistic approach to disease control, food safety, international trade in livestock, farmer compensation and regulation of importation, manufacture and composition of livestock drugs and feed,” he said. That these approaches will undoubtedly unlock the potentials of the livestock sub-sector in enhancing household and national food and nutrition security, through an increase in both farmer income and livestock production and productivity. This he said will put the country in the right footing of playing a major role in international trade in livestock.
“The bill if enacted and its provisions properly implemented, will improve both animal and human health, increase our national herd population and enable the sub-sector to generate the much needed foreign currency from sale of livestock and livestock products beyond our borders,” he told the Joint Committee. He underscored that the effects of climate change on livestock production due to insecurity of feed and water and the emergence and re-emergence of animal diseases, calls for swift and parallel counter efforts from all stakeholders, and the introduction of mitigation policies by the government.
“Livestock farmers being the custodians of our livestock herd population, stand to be the main beneficiaries of this bill if enacted. Under the current Diseases of Animal Act 1994, livestock farmers and by extension the country, are the most disadvantaged and deprived. They are neither able to satisfy domestic in needs in livestock and livestock products, nor able to access the international market,” he lamented. He said recurrent disease outbreaks, lack of meat and poultry and the misuse of veterinary drugs, have led to very unhealthy livestock and human populations, which the bill also seek to address. That if enacted, livestock owners, feed and drug manufacturers and importers, will be obliged to operate within the confines and provisions of the Animal Health Bill, 2020, thereby sanitizing livestock production through improved services and effective control measures.
“Currently, the animal welfare situation in the country is appalling, as drought animals (horse and donkeys) are deprived of their basic freedoms. Whilst they contribute immensely to household food security and welfare, these animals continue to be over-worked and under-fed and poorly housed, with little or nor veterinary care,” he expounded.