About 29 livestock farmers chosen from six counties including Grand Bassa, Bomi, Margibi, Rivercess, Sinoe and Grand Kru counties have acquired skills on the prevention and control of animal diseases.
The training aimed at developing the workforce capacity of Liberia’s animal sector to improve food security.
It lasted for 21 days on the University of Liberia (UL) Fendell campus facilitated by the UL College of Agriculture and Forestry in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Emergency Center for Transboundary Animals Diseases (ECTAD) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) program.
Many of the country livestock farmers lacked better knowledge on improved animals rearing as well as the prevention and control animal diseases.
Speaking during the closing program on Satruday, November 14, FAO Country Director Mariatou Njie said that the livestock farmers were trained as community animal health workers (CAHWs) to work with other livestock farmers in the counties.
“One of the core challenges identified with the livestock sub-sector is workforce scarcity. Liberia is severely constrained due to the lack of qualified and trained animal health personnel,” she said.
According to her, FAO-ECTAD GHSA program on animal health intends to support the Liberian government in improving the animal sector through training of animal health workers and developing infrastructures.
“As part of our short term support to alleviate the sector, especially the human resource capacity problem, we have developed a workforce strategy that will enhance workforce capacity. We are now working with the MOA to generate the action plan to operationalize the strategy,” she said.
She said that FAO intends to train CAHWs in the 15 counties of Liberia, adding that with the current training her institution has trained a total of 58 animals health workers.
“A total of 58 CAHWs have been trained in two batches including the group graduating today. I am pleased to report that as for now all of the counties in the country have been covered,” she said.
Madam Njie mentioned that FAO ECTAD with support from USAID GHSA has established an Epidemiology Unit at the UL campus to diagnose animal diseases and has equipped the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Monrovia with advanced equipment and supplied it with various diagnostic kits to make it better functional.
She added that CAHWs who were trained will be integrated in to the National Epidemiology surveillance network which could improve the control of animals diseases in the country to safeguard animal and public health in general.
“To enhance the service delivery by these frontline animal health service providers, I have just distributed basic start-up veterinary kits and drugs to enable them function effectively in the field,” she said.
Meanwhile, the FAO Country Director, has disclosed that her institution is establishing several poultry production sites in five counties where the trained CAHWs will be linked to provide services.
Also speaking, Dr. Fatima Soud, USAID Senior Advisor for GHSA, said that the United States Government will remain in partnership with the government of Liberia to continue to empower sustainable activities to improve public health in the country.
“Sustainability of this activity will come from reporting from events unusual from the community. It shall ensure mentorship and support from the Ministry of Agriculture and all stakeholders, she said.
According to her the GHSA seeks to accelerate progress toward the world safe and secure from infectious disease threats by preventing, detecting and rapidly responding to biological threats whether they are naturally occurring, intentional or accidental and to elevate this issue as a leader level priority.
Mr. Joseph Anderson, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the Ministry of Agriculture who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture Jeanine M. Cooper thanked FAO and USAID for working to develop the animal sector.
We are pleased of the collaborating efforts demonstrated by our partners to develop the agricultural sector,” he said.
He promised the Ministry’s commitment in working with the trained animals health workers to make sure that they succeed in their sojourns.
“We can assure you of the improvement of the animals in your respective counties would be taken seriously. We will do all we can to support you so that the productivity of your animals and others within the communities will increase.