The following are excerpts of an opinion piece written by Monique Eloit, director general of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on ‘Keeping animals healthy can help keep people healthy too, and development on track’.
With as little as one-quarter of expected rainfall received, widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the October–December rains, FAO said. Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, northeast and coastal Kenya, southeast Ethiopia as well as the Afar region still to recover from El Niño induced drought of 2015/16, and South Sudan, which faces a serious food crisis due to protracted insecurity.
A flock of Makhi Cheeni goats near Hasilpur, Bahawalpur, Pakistan (photo credit: ILRI/M Sajjad Khan). ‘Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Nadeem Amjad stated that livestock was the future of the country’s poor farmers with small lands. . . . ‘Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Taimur Talpur inaugurated the shed as chief …
A new regional push, focused on promoting four key actions to adapt agriculture and curb growing hunger, could help, Ajayi said. The best ways to assist southern Africa’s farmers, agricultural experts said, are by increasing their access to insurance for crop failure and livestock deaths, and giving them better weather advice via mobile phone.
Peter Janssen of AgResearch, New Zealand’s main farming-science institute, is looking for ways to reduce the amount of methane the country’s animals burp up.
Scientists will use funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to look at how genetic information can improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in tropical climates. The institutions in Scotland and Africa where the researchers are based are also making additional contributions, taking the total funding pot to £20 million over the next five years.
‘Archaeologists have long known that people started to domesticate animals for food at the dawn of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent (the curve of land across the Middle East from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf) about 10,000 years ago. But details of the complex pathways through which improved livestock spread across Europe and Asia are only now emerging, as genomic technology makes it practical to compare the DNA of hundreds of animals across continents. . . . ‘A Chinese consortium led the sheep study in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi; it is published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.