To mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of veterinary profession and veterinary science, the UN has declared 2011 World Veterinary Year, a statement from the FAO has said on Tuesday.
The statement said that King Louis XV of France in 1761 had proposed that a veterinary school be founded in Lyon, due to the scourge of cattle disease at the time.
This year also marks the 300th anniversary of the development of the first measures designed to fight bovine diseases.
The measures that were formulated in the early 18th century by an Italian physician Bernardino Ramazzini and Giovanni Maria Lancisi, personal physician to Popes Innocent XI, Clement XI and Innocent XII.
The slogan adopted for the celebration is “Vet for health. Vet for food. Vet for the planet!” the statement said.
It said this was the motto that evoked the all-important role that veterinarians play in safeguarding human and animal health in working to enhance food security and in protecting the environment.
FAO, together with the European Union, is one of the principal institutional partners for the commemoration organised by the VET 2011 committee.
VET 2011 committee is a body that brings together all the national veterinary organisations that have adhered to World Veterinary Year.
An opening ceremony was held on Tuesday in Versailles, France, attended by high-ranking French and international public figures.
In his speech, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, emphasised the important role played by FAO — together with its member states and other concerned institutions — in the fight against the numerous zoonotic diseases threatening animals and animal products.
Diouf underlined the measures taken by FAO jointly with the WHO and OIE (the World Animal Health Organisation) to fight the recent Avian Flu H5N1 pandemic.
Jacques said that FAO and OIE would soon announce the total elimination of the bovine disease, rinderpest.
“This will be the first time in human history that a zoonotic disease will have been totally eradicated and only the second time, after the victory over smallpox, that any disease has been totally stamped out of existence,” he said.
He also emphasised the crucial role played by veterinary science, which he said, “has significantly reduced mankind’s exposure to the risks of zoonotic diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis or other animal flu viruses”.
Diouf said it was estimated that animal diseases caused losses of between 25 per cent and 33 per cent in world animal production.
“The veterinary profession is constantly being forced to deal with new challenges such as new diseases affecting aquaculture and the effects of climate change,” he said.
According to him, FAO has made animal health one of the pillars of its strategies.
The statement said that the FAO currently has 56 veterinarians working worldwide, dealing primarily with infectious diseases and with parasites that affect domestic and wild animals.
FAO’s animal production and health division (AGA) is deeply engaged in the fight to control other animal maladies such as Foot and Mouth Disease, PPR (peste des petits ruminants), African swine disease (ASF) and Rift Valley Fever, among others, the statement said.
IITA Develops New Potato Variety
Empowering, Novel, Agri-Business Led, Employment, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (ENABLE TAAT) has recently developed Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) species to tackle malnutrition and reduce diabetes in Africa.
The ENABLE TAAT Field Trainer of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Mr Murtalab Adedamola, made this known in Ibadan yesterday.
He said that the development of the potato species was one of the plans of IITA, aimed at combating malnutrition and attaining food security in Africa. Adedamola said that OFSP was different from the Irish potato, adding that it contained a lot of water, Vitamin A, high carotene and low level of sugar. “It has two varieties – King J and Mothers’ Delight, and it can be used for baking cake, snacks and bread.
“It is stress-free, its cultivation cycle is within three months; it is not a tuber but a root and it does not go deep into the soil like cassava.
“The growth continues even after harvesting, it is good for children and diabetic patients because of its low level of sugar. Farmers can plant a hectare with just 500kg. vines of OFSP, which multiplies.
“They should cut the vines together, bundle them together, weigh them and then plant them. Farmers can plant at a depth of 20 or 25 cm and at an angle of 45 degrees because the spacing can determine the yield,” he said. Adedamola advised farmers to always apply MPK fertiliser to the crop after two weeks of planting, as the exercise would go a long way to improve the yield if the crop had access to water. The field trainer said that the maintenance of an OFSP farm would not require much weeding, adding that the soil would crack while its flowers would shoot out to signal the appropriate time for harvesting. He, however, warned that the King J variety of OFSP was better grown in the northern parts of the country, while the cultivation of the Mothers’ Delight type would thrive in the South.
“In Cameroon, we have four varieties of OFSP and in Cote d’Ivoire, there are six varieties. Farmers are planting it already but the produce lacks market because people are not aware of its numerous benefits. “When people learn about its benefits, they will start patronising the farmers well; we will definitely have more varieties of it in Nigeria because it is a crop that can transform the livelihood of potato farmers perfectly,’’ he added.
Assembly Approves N1.5bn Agric Loan
The Niger State House of Assembly has passed a resolution granting approval to the state government to access a N1.5bn facility for the implementation of the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS).
The House passed the resolution yesterday following the presentation of the report of Joint Committees on Finance and Agriculture.
Presenting the report, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Alhaji Abdullahi Mammagi, said it interfaced with relevant stakeholders to ascertain the justification for the request made.
Mammagi noted that the facility was being offered at an interest rate of nine per cent per annum and 60 months repayment period by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“From the interface held, the committee found that the Federal Government had offered a window of facility to states to support implementation of AADS in states.
“The CBN, through Zenith Bank has offered to provide the of N1.5bn. The facility is offered for a period of 60 months, at an interest rate of nine per cent per annum.
“This is deemed to be highly competitive in terms of what obtains in the banking industry.
“Niger State has keyed into the programme as its implementation would stimulate and support socio-economic development in the state,” he added.
According to him, the repayment cost was manageable, adding that it would not be too much burden on the monthly cash flow of the state.
Similarly, the House commenced debate on the 2019 budget by the governor.
NGO Urges FG To Increase Agric Financing
The Fresh and Young Brains Development Initiative (FBIN), an NGO, has appealed to the Federal Government to increase its funding on agriculture, especially for women and youth farmers to increase their yields.
The Founder of the initiative, Mrs Nkiruka Nnaemego, made the call on Monday in Abuja at the Yfarm National Colloquium on Attracting Public Financing in Sustainable Agriculture for Youth and Women Small Scale Farmers.
Nnaemego said that the Nigerian government had committed to the 2014 Malabo Principles of ensuring increase in public funding to at least 10 per cent of the national budget to the agricultural sector.
According to her, this will enable the countries effectively implement their programmes to reduce hunger and increase productivity among in Africa.
She said that this commitment had not been achieved and it was affecting the productivity of small scale farmers, who consisted of about 70 per cent of the country’s farming population.
“This colloquium provides a unique platform for stakeholders in agriculture to brainstorm on innovative models and approaches for attracting public financing and government involvement in agriculture.
“From the Malabo declaration, which African Heads of State agreed to commit 10 per cent of their countries’ budgets to agriculture, it is unfortunately that Nigeria is still below three per cent.
“Agriculture is the way to go now since the country is looking for other options aside oil. We need to increase finance in agriculture.
“Although the Federal Government is trying, but it should try harder,” she said.
She explained that Yfarm project’s goal was to promote a youth/women-led agribusiness society by reducing poverty, thereby increasing active youth/women participation in sustainable agriculture by 2020.
She said that Yfarm Project had been at the forefront of policy advocacy, media engagement, capacity building and mentoring of rural and vulnerable youth/women in some parts of Africa.
“We celebrate outstanding youths and women, provide access to markets and business networking through our National and African Youth Agric Festivals and Concerts,” she stated.
The Project Coordinator, Food and Agriculture, Actionaid Nigeria, Mr Azubike Nwokoye appealed to the Federal Government to create an enabling environment to attract private investment. He further urged government at all levels to do their parts by increasing public financing on agriculture across all areas with comparative advantages.
”That is a failure in its own already.”
Soni appealed to the government to make available inputs by January not in April and May when such inputs were not needed.
The Programme Officer, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr Alphonsus Onwuemeka said that agriculture was in the concurrent list and urged the state governments to play their parts to lessen the burden on the Federal Government.
He acknowledged the Federal Government’s support to agriculture and urged women to take advantage of the gender unit created by government at the Ministry of Agriculture to handle women challenges.
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