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Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health component of the European Union-funded Support Towards the Operationalisation of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy Project (STOSAR)

The animal health component of the project seeks to strengthen the livestock sector as it supports livelihoods, provides food and nutrition security, and provides an essential pathway out of poverty for at least 42% of people living within the SADC region. The project speaks well to Zimbabwe’s national imperatives, such as the Livestock Growth Plan and the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy, leading to the attainment of Vision 2030.

“Zimbabwe is on high alert for transboundary animal diseases, and we have been working closely with partners such as FAO to strengthen our biosecurity measures to ensure that the country’s livestock is at optimum health to produce high-quality meat and meat products that can be exported to lucrative regional and international markets," said the chief director of Veterinary Services, Dr Josphat Nyika.

To curb high impact regional transboundary animal diseases that include Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), the STOSAR Project has delivered animal health assistance and support to 16 SADC Member States including Zimbabwe.

“For effective animal disease control, inspection and certification in accordance with international requirements and guidelines, the STOSAR project has procured laboratory equipment and reagents and has facilitated several trainings in partnership with the Department of Veterinary Services through local technical resources persons in collaboration with regional academic agricultural centres of excellence. These collective efforts intend to improve the quality of locally produced meat and other animal products and therefore boost Zimbabwe’s export potential,” said FAO’s subregional coordinator for southern Africa, Patrice Talla, in a speech read on his behalf by Berhanu Bedane.

In addition to this, the project has supported the SADC Secretariat to develop the long-term capacities of member states by developing harmonised regional management strategies to tackle transboundary diseases to strengthen regional integration, promote sustainable agricultural and socio-economic growth, improve access to markets, facilitate trade, and enhance food and nutrition security within the SADC region.

The STOSAR animal health component launch was followed by a comprehensive one-day PPR training on surveillance, diagnosis and containment targeting veterinary officers from Mashonaland East and Harare Metropolitan Provinces. Already, six out of the ten provinces in the country have received this training.

Some PPR training and surveillance activities are scheduled to be rolled out to the remaining provinces in the coming weeks to capacitate the Department of Veterinary Services to compile adequate evidence to enable Zimbabwe to attain the World Organisation for Animal Health’s recognition of historical freedom from PPR within two years.