The director of African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Professor Ahmed Elsawalhy and the COMESA Reinforcing Veterinary Governance (VET-GOV) program coordinator Dr. Yoseph S. Mamo paid a courtesy call on the Minister for Agro-Industry and Food Security (MAIFS) Hon. Satya Vegash Faugoo and Permanent Secretary Mr. Ashis Kumar Hoolass, on Wednesday, 19 March 2014. During the visit to Ministry, Professor Elsawalhy and Hon Faugoo discussed various pertinent issues related to regional livestock development, diseases control and the progress being made in the implementation of VET-GOV's programs in the COMESA region and the continent. Honorable Minister appreciated the good work that AU-IBAR and COMESA is doing to address national and regional institutional gaps including livestock policies, strategies and veterinary legislations. He also commended AU-IBAR for granting pilot activity project entitled as "Evaluation of Basic Veterinary Care in Mauritius".
Following the curtsey visit, the Mauritius Pilot Activity Project was signed between the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security and African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources in the capital city, Port Luis, on 21st March 2014.
The Director of AU-IBAR Professor Ahmed El-Sawalhy and the Permanent Secretary of MAIFS Mr. Ashis Kumar Hoolass signed the agreement. The signing and launching of the project was attended by government officials from sector ministries, representatives of farmers' organizations, the private sector veterinarians, civil service societies and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
While officially opening the meeting, Mauritius Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Hon Satya Vegash Faugoo, reaffirmed his government's commitment to supporting all agricultural sectors, especially the livestock industry and the implementation of the pilot activity project. Similarly, on his opening remarks, Professor Ahmed El-Sawalhy expressed AU-IBAR's commitment to strengthen the capacities of AU Member States to prevent and control transboundary animal diseases and zoonoses; to increase productivity while sustaining natural resources bases and to improve compliance with international sanitary requirements and thus increasing trade opportunities for African producers.
The award of the grant is from European Union (EU) and African Union Commission (AUC) through AU-IBAR-COMESA Reinforcing Veterinary Governance in Africa (VET-GOV) program. The purpose of this project is to improve the quality and efficiency of basic veterinary services in Mauritius mainly by involving private veterinarian in the service delivery and by implementing Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) through which some of the public veterinary service activities can be handed over to private veterinarians. To ensure a smooth transition, the present pilot activity project, will evaluate the veterinary services in order to minimize any adverse impact on vulnerable smallholder livestock producers and bring about the enhancement of veterinary care sought. The evaluation will include:
- Private veterinary capacity: whether there are an adequate number of veterinarians to fill in the void when the Public Veterinary Service withdraws its free clinical veterinary service;
- Stakeholder acceptance: whether farmers, employees and other stakeholders will accept the change as it may entail additional costs for them but with greater profit margin;
- Impact on the development of the livestock sector: whether the proposed change will lead to increased animal production and better food security for the country;
- Financial implications: whether the proposed change will lead to better resource allocation.
- The role of Extension Service: whether Extension Service is able to take up some functions presently performed by public veterinarian and whether they are able to communicate to farmers the changes being undertaken.
- Empowerment of farmers: whether farmers are sufficiently empowered to carry out basic animal husbandry practices in order to reduce their dependency on the public veterinarian.
The VET-GOV Program Coordinator in COMESA, Dr Yoseph S. Mamo presented International Norms and Good Practices in Veterinary Services. In his presentation, Dr. Mamo gave explanation on scope, structure, organizations and classifications of veterinary services. He emphasized Good Governance of Veterinary services relies on strict adherence to the International Standards and must ensure, surveillance of animal health; early detection of diseases, transparency and immediate outbreak declarations (notifications); a rapid response to animal disease outbreaks, including any necessary vaccinations if appropriate; the application of bio-security and bio-containment measures; strategies to provide farmers with compensation. Explanations were also given on the importance of involving private sector veterinarians and on the establishment of Public Private Partnerships for sustainable animal health systems (including veterinary statutory bodies). In addition, Dr. Mamo gave a presentation on the Macro and Micro Policy perspectives in the development of livestock development policies.
The progresses so far made with regards to implementation of gaps identified during the last consecutive Livestock Policy Hub meetings were presented by the chair person of the LPH, the deputy Permanent Secretary Mr. Dhanraj Conhye. Mr. Conhye lauded that the livestock industry has made a commendable progress in the last two years and has registered 6% growth rate mainly due to changes in the policy such as provision of incentives for feed production and importation of high grade animals. He stressed that this leap through happened due to tireless work of the LPH and the ministry. He appreciated the support so far they have been receiving from AU-IBAR and COMESA VET-GOV program. Lastly, the two day Livestock Policy Hub meeting was adjourned by developing road map for implementation of identified gaps including formulation of livestock development policy, strategy and improvement of veterinary legislations.