Stories by Sola Ogundipe
TALKS between the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, and the FAO Sub-regional Coordinator and Representative to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, Mr. Patrick Kormawa, on the menace of Animal Trypasonomiasis took centrestage recently.
Animal Trypanosomiasis, also called Nagana (Animal Sleeping sickness) is a livestock disease caused by the bite of a tsetse fly. The disease, which is caused by blood parasites, can render livestock sick and unproductive and, can also lead to death.
Livestock can also be a reservoir of the disease which can then be transmitted to humans.
Human and livestock health
Their deliberation on the threat of the disease to human and livestock health and agricultural production, and, thereby, rural development and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa. Transmitted mainly by tsetse flies, Trypasonomiasis is prevalent in Nigeria and 36 other countries among the poorest of the world.
The two officials discussed the impact of the disease on food security and challenges common to countries of the Eastern Africa Sub-region and Nigeria such as the presence of tsetse fly and the black fly, both trans-boundary pests that have adverse effects on food security in parts of the continent.
Onu observed that the control and eradication of Tsetse fly in Nigeria, with adequate budgetary resources, will have a huge socio-economic impact on the people in affected communities and is what Nigeria is pursuing.
In proposing actions towards the eradication of the tsetse fly and the disease, Kormawa called for stronger commitment of governments and development partners to promoting control and elimination programmes within tsetsefly infested regions in Africa.
Emphasis was on promotion of south-south cooperation to focus on sharing good practices, technology and scientific knowledge-sharing.
”Knowledge and experience sharing are crucial”, added the FAO Representative to Ethiopia, Amadou Allahoury. “We are open to support Nigeria in this exchange of experience on pests and food security”, he added.
The meeting called for long-term planning and sustained financial commitment. Key players in the control and eradication of the disease include the FAO-led Programme against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT), AU-PATTEC, IAEA and WHO.
FAO also brought forward the importance of linking livestock health, tsetse fly and Trypanosomosis elimination with nutrition programmes such as that of the Nigerian school food and nutrition programme to create market for agricultural products.
Onu asserted that the Federal government is strengthening the technical cooperation with FAO in establishing bankable sustainable programmes and links to key resource partners.