By Kebba Jeffang
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a nationwide cattle vaccination against the contagious Bovine Pleuro pneumonia (CBPP) disease at a ceremony held at Mandinaba in the West Coast Region on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The exercise is the second mass vaccination campaign across the country conducted by FAO against the deadly disease.
In her welcoming remarks, Madam Sifai Hydara, WCR Governor said the Gambia has recognized the tremendous efforts of FAO as a development partner since the outbreak of the disease in 2012. She applauded the position of FAO in particular and other stakeholders such as AATG and livestock department of the Gambia in their pivotal role in agriculture and rural economic development in the Gambia.
“They are not only producing food directly but providing the key inputs to crop production. I would like to reiterate the Gambia government’s commitment to agriculture and food self sufficiency,” said governor Hydara.
Dr. Perpetua Ketapa-Kalala, the FAO Representative in the Gambia said the CBPP disease constitutes a serious threat to cattle production in sub-Saharan Africa; adding that cattle is an important part of livelihoods of a great number of households and communities in the Gambia. She added that at the outbreak of the disease, it was estimated that CBPP could result in the loss of more than half of the national cattle herd which would have had a devastating consequence particularly for rural communities that largely depend on cattle for livelihoods.
“The livestock sub-sector in the Gambia contributes 29.6% to agricultural GDP and 8.6% to the national GDP, such a loss would have negatively impacted on the national and socio economy of the country. It is against this background that in November, 2012, the government declared a National Animal Health Emergency in the country and began mobilizing all available emergency funds for immediate action. FAO supported through an emergency TCP project amounting to US$469,000 equivalent to D19,220,000 (Nineteen Million Two Hundred and Twenty dalasis) for a period of two years,” said FAO country Rep.
She further stated that the programme was designed to conduct a nationwide vaccination campaign to curb the spread of the disease, enhance limited technical knowledge and capacity of the staff on improved techniques for CBPP diagnosis, disease surveillance as well as improve the capacities of national laboratories for disease diagnosis.
Dr. Kalala added, “the support will also extend to addressing the issues of funding for basic field and laboratory activities and to develop a national CBPP control strategy. It is also expected that the project will help to contain the CBPP outbreak and minimize the rapid spread of the disease to all parts of the country.”
Dr. Abdoulie Ceesay, Director of Livestock Department expressed happiness towards the FAO support that aims at protecting the cattle from the deadly CBPP disease. He said the disease has been a major cause of cattle mortality and production losses in many parts of Africa. He added that being an OIE List A disease and with implications for rapid spread between herds and across international borders. CBPP has engaged the attention and resources of organizations such as FAO for many years in attempts to curb the spread of the disease and limit its devastating economic effects, especially at the village or community level.
“CBPP is a direct contact between infected and susceptible cattle and that, the introduction of the disease into susceptible cattle population results in widespread mortality. In a chronic stage, the disease is insidious in nature with variable clinical course that makes epidemiological study of CBPP based on clinical manifestation alone difficult, hence the challenge in early detection of the disease which is why it is difficult to effectively control the disease. Control measures that are normally applied are restriction of animal movements, slaughtering of affected animals and vaccination or combinations of the above,” said Livestock Management Director.
Livestock Management Director said the main constraints associated with CBPP control is the reporting and transparency issues, weak epidemiological analysis, lack of effective vaccines and communication tools. He disclosed that the Gambia has not seen a single case of CBPP since 1971 until 2012 when the disease was confirmed in August in CRR. He said from that moment the Government of the Gambia through the Agriculture Ministry has been showing its commitment to the control of this dreadful cattle menace. “The ministry declared an animal health emergency on the 8th November, 2012. In collaboration with its partners such as FAO, Action Aid the Gambia, USDA/ APHIS and USAID activities were immediately stepped up that were geared towards the containment of CBPP,” said Dr. Ceesay.
Mr. Sheriff Bojang, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture applauded the support given by FAO. He said the CBPP is a deadly disease but that with the intervention of the relevant partners such as FAO could make positive change in the area.
Mr. Ebrima Jallow, national coordinator of shepherd and livestock association, said he wants the livestock owners to let their cattle be vaccinated in order to eradicate the disease in the country. He said since the Ramadan is coming they are appealing to the Alkalolu to use the permit correctly so that they could fight cattle theft.