Stakeholders in livestock production in Liberia have expressed need for a policy that will enhance livestock development in the country.
The stakeholders raised the concern Thursday, May 15, at a one-day consultative meeting held at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and was convened by the international non-governmental organization, BRAC-Liberia.
Stakeholders attending the meeting included officials of the MoA and those from the private sector, who had gathered to review and and obtain inputs from the National Livestock Policy of Liberia.
In his presentation, Prof. M. Golam Shahi Alam, international consultant at BRAC-Liberia, said the sector can contribute immensely to food security, economic growth and wealth creation in the country, provided there is a regulation to guide the sector.
According to him, animal health and veterinary services play significant roles in the sector and, as such, there is a need to implement the policy in line with Office International des Epizooties (OIE) and World Trade Organization (WTO).
The World Organization (formerly the Office International des Epizooties (OIE)) is the world organization for animal health.
Alam, who is a professor at the Bangladesh University of Agriculture, said the Veterinary Public Health section (VPH) needs to ensure food safety, control of zoonotic disease, meat inspection and abattoir management, which he said is very poor in Liberia.
He, however, indicated that the limited VPH division/section in the Bureau of National Livestock (BNL) lacks manpower as well as funding and laboratory facilities.
“No legal framework to implement the mandate imposed,” he noted.
The Bangladesh professor explained that VPH needs to participate in the process to regionalized disease control for increasing international market access and ensuring human health safety.
He asserted that Liberia has laws and regulation to cover a few areas, but the regulatory framework and implementation is still weak.
However, prof. Alam said the institutions (BNL/MOA) are responsible for drafting and implementing laws and regulations in the sector.
At the same time, Prof. Alam said marketing of livestock products needs to be regulated, especially on the importations of the product, which according to him has bad impact on local producers as well as subsidy on animal feeds, vaccine, drugs and other things.
For his part, Joseph Anderson, Director of Animal Health Services acknowledged BRAC-Liberia for briefing them on the issues and hoped that they will come up with a policy to regulate the sector.
Director Anderson told participants that MOA has a Veterinary Department, but nobody is interested in the profession.
He said regulating the sector will guide the protection of livestock, farmers and investors, and equally address food security.
Mr. Anderson also urged participants to provide their inputs as they are establishing a national document for them.
Participants at the one-day stakeholders meeting thanked MOA and BRAC for such an initiative.