Animal Health and Production

Livestock plays an important role in the social, cultural and economic environment of Pacific Island communities. Indeed many, of the important social and cultural events in island life cannot be properly carried out without the slaughter and presentation of livestock in sufficient numbers. The Animal Health and Production thematic team works together in the Pacific region to develop prosperous, efficient and sustainable animal health and production systems, producing healthy animals and safe products for food security and income generation.

Veterinary conference opened by His Excellency the President of Fiji
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 11:19

The 15th Australasia/Oceania Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA) Conference opened on Monday 2 September in Nadi, Fiji, with an address from His Excellency the President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

The President welcomed participants to Fiji and said CVA aimed to promote high standards of veterinary practice to advance animal health, productivity and welfare and improve the quality of life of people.  ‘This is a noble mission,’ he said, ‘and recognises just how important the animal kingdom is to our well-being and increasingly to the sustainability of our existence on a planet that is facing unprecedented stresses and challenges.’

The President noted that the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) was the conference’s key technical partner and had helped to shape the conference programme. Other important partners represented at the meeting include the World Organization for Animal Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said livestock had long been an integral part of Pacific Island social and cultural systems. Now consumption and therefore, imports of livestock products, from dairy products to meat, leather and fibre were increasing steadily across the region. Fiji imported FJ $68 million worth of dairy products last year while animal and meat product imports reached $57 million.

‘The major challenge is to produce more of these requirements locally, while providing economic opportunities, greater self-reliance and enhanced food security in the process.’ The President said factors such as climate change and a shortage of veterinary skills confronted island countries in trying to improve livestock production.

Veterinary education will be a major focus of the conference. While there is pressure on countries to attain greater self-sufficiency and sustainability in livestock production systems, this will not be possible without much better animal health and production services.

Dr Robin Yarrow, conference organiser said, ‘Disease control and emerging diseases, especially zoonoses, are a major priority and enhanced veterinary capacity is a special goal across the Pacific region’.

The Conference, which ends on Friday 6 September, will endorse priority recommendations and strategies for action by individual island states as well as by regional intergovernmental organisations.

The Annual Fiji Agricultural Show is being held in parallel with the conference in Lautoka. Participants will also take field trips to visit livestock production and aquaculture enterprises in Viti Levu.

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