African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal resources (AU-IBAR), recently implemented a training Programme on Quarantine Management Practices and Laboratory Diagnosis for over fourty Somali veterinary personnel drawn from the line ministries, export quarantines, diagnostic laboratories and university veterinary graduates.
The training was aimed at promoting intra and interregional livestock trade and opening the markets with Egypt by raising awareness and diagnostic skills for quarantine management and operations as well as laboratory diagnosis and interpretation of laboratory results of common transboundary animal diseases (TADs) that limit trade.
To mitigate the risk of introduction of TADs to importing countries, live animals from these areas, particularly in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHoA), destined for export are held in quarantine stations prior to export. This approach has allowed countries in the GHoA to access livestock markets despite the difficulty of achieving whole country or zonal disease free status.
Whereas potential of Somalia to export livestock to Egypt is huge, Egypt’s growing population of over 91 million, and the strong historical and cultural ties between the two countries; the challenge of implementing, Sanitary standards has ensured an inconsistent supply.
AU-IBAR with support of development partners, EU and USAID, supported the training of Somali veterinary personnel as a way of stabilizing the livestock trade and seize the opportunities that exist in safe and stable trade in livestock and livestock products. The European Union within the Somali Compact: New Deal for Somalia from 2013 ensures a clear focus on Somalia's most vital political, social and economic priorities: building inclusive politics, improving security, justice, the country's economic foundations, revenue collection and the provision of services. It is a shift from transition to transformation that is largely informed by the performance of livestock sector. In mounting this training programme AU-IBAR has received funding from European Union and USAID through the following projects.
- The European Union funded Enhancing Somali Trade in Livestock (ESOTL) project that aims to improve the livelihoods and enhance resilience to shocks and disasters of livestock dependent households in Somalia.
- The European Union funded Reinforcing Animal Health Services in Somalia (RAHS) that aims to enhance the quality, access and sustainability of animal health services in Somalia;
- The Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) project that aims to stabilize livelihoods of livestock dependent communities by enhancing capacities of all livestock value chain actors to effectively prevent and control transboundary animal diseases in a harmonized and coordinated manner;
Participants to the 7-day training programme on Quarantine Management Practices and Laboratory Diagnosis of trade limiting diseases indicated that the training was not only done in a timely manner and is expected to build their capacity in being responsive to importing country requirements. The interactions during the training has resulted in strong coordination linkages between the personnel drawn from respective veterinary authorities in Somaliland, Puntland and the Federal line ministries. It will also enhance their capacity to reduce the risk of exporting animals with diseases and to ensure compliance with animal welfare standards.
During the training participants were exposed to good quarantine practices that need to be put in place among the quarantine stations in Somalia in order to comply with SPS and animal welfare requirements of importing countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Exchange of contacts were also made to ensure that Egyptian personnel continue to play a key role in the livestock quarantine stations in Somalia through the provision of technical backstopping.
It is widely recognized that the Egyptian livestock and meat markets present a considerable growth opportunity to the Somali livestock exports. The demand for 1 million metric tons of meat annually is a windfall for the Somali livestock sector if harnessed appropriately. As the Somali continue to seek sustainable growth in incomes and employment, it is vital to build stronger and deeper links with other agri-economies such as Egypt. This to a large extent depend on the ability of Somali producers to satisfy international standards for trade in live animals and food safety.
To support this vital trade, it is therefore essential that we grow this collaboration through such technical exchanges, creating vital linkages amongst our two peoples in greater south to south activities.