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12.11.2005 General News

Place importance on livestock production - Govt urged

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Ho, Nov. 12, GNA - The Ghana Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) at the close of its four-day Annual General Meeting in Ho has called on the government to raise livestock production to the same level of importance as crops.

It said this policy should eventually lead to the creation of a separate Ministry for Livestock.

The communiqu=E9 read by Dr. Enoch Boye-Mensah Koney, President of the GVMA, said "veterinarians, animal scientists and other expects should be recognized by government as indispensable bridge between producers and consumers of poultry and be treated as an autonomous body with enhanced budgeting support".

The communiqu=E9 said the establishment of the Poultry Development Board "as an instrument in enhancing the development of the poultry industry" was highly appreciated, but recommended that the Board "is equipped and armed with the legislative instrument to enforce the policies for which it was established".

It asked Government to create avenues for quick access to credit by people in the livestock business, regretting that whereas the crop sector took 85 per cent of loans granted by the Agricultural Development Bank, livestock got only 6.19 per cent.

The Communiqu=E9 called for the veterinary and epidemiological units and the Regional Veterinary Laboratories to be strengthened in capacity to be able to give early warning, accurate and prompt diagnosis to new emerging animal diseases in the country.

It also called for the proper monitoring of the importation and use of veterinary drugs and medicament to avoid the negative effect of some of the drugs entering the food chain.

The Communiqu=E9 asked stakeholders, including district assemblies and landowners to work out a proper mechanism for controlling the movement of foreign cattle.

The 11-point communiqu=E9 also touched on the need for government to create the necessary enabling environment for the production of adequate and quality protein sources for the populace.

It said the Association was concerned about food safety and hygiene and want diseases such as anthrax, tuberculosis, brucellosis and rabies tackled earnestly in the country, regretting that despite the yearly campaign on rabies, the occurrence of that disease was still high in the country.

The Association said it was monitoring the eminent threat of the Avian Flu and expressed the hope that the "necessary investment will be forthcoming as soon as possible to the surveillance teams to be effective on the ground."

Dr George Opoku-Pare, Deputy Director of Veterinary Services briefed the closing meeting on the steps taken by the Services to battle the flu if detected in Ghana.

He said all wetlands in the country were under surveillance and dead migratory birds would be examined for the flu and in the event of the disease being detected, safety belts would be created around the area and measures such as the killing of poultry taken to avert a national catastrophe.

Dr Opoku-Pare said owners of birds killed would be compensated, assuring that enough anti-viral drugs were available for any eventuality.

The GVMA during its meeting recognized that livestock production in the country was low, production cost high, credit line to producers low and government policies in the sector uncertain. The meeting also found the absence of measures to locate and deal with the illegal importation and marketing of substandard veterinary drugs in Ghana disturbing. The GVMA said there was some threat to the trans-boundary animal disease control effort of the Veterinary Service in Ghana by the free movement of alien cattle in the country.

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