South Asia to receive ADB aid to fight livestock diseases

poultry1Concerns are also rising about the spread of infectious diseases from animals to humans. (Image source: Wattpublishing/Flickr)Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a US$2mn grant to support South Asia’s push to slow the spread of livestock diseases like avian flu and foot and mouth disease

Rezaul Khan, senior natural resources and agriculture economist in ADB’s South Asia department, said, “Farm animals are an essential source of food and income, and are farmers’ only insurance against things like crop failure and medical expenses. Stronger regional measures to monitor, prevent, and control disease outbreaks will help lift rural earnings, boost food security, and make it safer to trade livestock and livestock products across borders.”

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction is providing the grant that will be administered by the ADB.

Livestock accounts for almost a third of South Asia’s agricultural gross domestic product and a growing and wealthier population means the region will need an additional four million tonne of meat and 65mn tonnes of milk annually by 2020. However, animal diseases have been spreading quickly in recent years within and between South Asian countries due to a large informal trade in livestock and livestock products, industry experts have said.

In India, livestock losses from foot and mouth disease alone are estimated at around US$4.5bn a year, and in Bangladesh poultry losses from avian flu have totalled over US$500mn since 2007.

The funds will be used to set up a formal regional cooperation framework among the member countries of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for cross-border disease control.

A regional epidemiology centre will be set up in Kathmandu, Nepal, to issue regular information on regional and national animal health issues, while a coordination unit in Nepal — supported by laboratories in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan — will manage regional animal health programs. A web-based regional information system will be set up to issue regular animal health reports and public and private sector agencies will get support to expand their expertise in disease diagnosis, surveillance, reporting and investigation of disease outbreaks.

The goal of the organisation is to help cut disease rates in the heavily affected areas to about 30 per cent by 2018 from about 50 per cent from 2012 and help bring sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards closer to international levels.

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