Implementing biosecurity and biosafety measures on poultry farms and live bird markets play an important role in preventing or minimizing the introduction and spread of infectious diseases pathogens that affect food security.
In commercial, free-range poultry farms and live bird markets, the risk for disease outbreaks is high, and can result in significant economic loses for the farmers and their integration. When major zoonotic disease outbreaks occur in a region, this may also result in economic losses such as employment and market scarcity, while affecting public health. A Newcastle or Influenza outbreak in an area involving numerous farms in close proximity can be catastrophic.
Therefore, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Liberia early April, 2019, embarked on a biosecurity and biosafety assessment mission in Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, and Grand Bassa counties, to highlight the strengths and weaknesses in biosecurity, and identify possible training needs for poultry farmers to create awareness and improve their response mechanism for potential zoonosis (disease that affects the poultry sector).
The mission targeted 20 commercial poultry farms, 29 free-range poultry farms, and three live birds markets. It also revealed that the level of biosecurity and biosafety in all the three facilities are low in making these farms vulnerable to various emerging and re-emerging diseases that could pose danger to the poultry sector, as well as to the consuming public.
Training needs identified
As a result of the findings and recommendations from the assessment, FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and with support from the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Program, organized a two-day capacity-building training for commercial poultry, and free-range poultry farmers, as well as vendors from live birds markers.
The training brought together 32 participants from Bomi, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado counties with the objective to strengthen the capacity of poultry stakeholders in biosafety and biosecurity, thus reducing the potential risks of zoonosis, animal health and economic loses in the country.
Specifically, the training aimed to share the findings of the biosecurity and biosafety assessment with the participants to create awareness and be trained on measures in poultry farms and live birds markets.
National Project Coordinator for ECTAD-FAO, Dr. Arthur Bob Karnuah, underscores the importance of biosecurity and biosafety in the fight against animal diseases, especially poultry diseases, which he said cannot be over emphasized.
“Biosecurity is the implementation of measures that reduce the risk of the introduction and spread of disease agents. Biosafety targets the protection of humans and the facilities that are dealing with biological agents and waste, while biosafety targets the protection of human and the facilities that are dealing with biological agents and waste.”
USAID Senior Adviser for the GHSA program in Liberia, Dr. Fatma Soud, informed the participants that the United States Government through the GHSA, is supporting the Liberian government in governance, education, health and economic growth, which include agriculture and poultry for income generation.
She said that the GHSA was signed to support countries in addressing the economic resource relating to human, and that the training will enable participants identify diseases that affect their birds poultry farms.