FAO promotes growth of Southern Africa’s poultry industry through dissemination of sustainable farming practices

SOUTHERN AFRICA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has received financial support from the Fleming Fund of the United Kingdom and the MARS Global Food Safety Center to undertake a capacity building program targeting poultry farmers in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The online course launched through its Virtual Leaning Centre for Southern Africa (SFS-VLC) is aimed to strengthen the capacity of farmer field school (FFS) facilitators and master trainers in the Southern African countries to prepare and run quality poultry-focused FFS.

A total of 47 participants (18 women and 29 men) drawn from trained FFS facilitators from both countries, have been enrolled in the course, with participants attending it from either their smartphones or laptops, making the course accessible to personnel working in remote areas.

According to FAO, the course will broaden the targeted audience knowledge and skills in FFS facilitation in poultry production and health, and highlight approaches to promote prudent antimicrobial use and raise awareness on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

“The capacity built through this training will contribute significantly to improving production and productivity of smallholder poultry, leading to better food security, nutrition, reduced threats to human health as well as reduced poverty.”

Patrice Talla – FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa

Areas covered in the training include principles and characteristics of family poultry production and poultry FFS; planning and designing FFS activities on poultry in collaboration with participating producers; key technical information on poultry production and health such as good practices in animal husbandry, biosecurity and those promoting food safety.

In addition, the course emphasizes the importance of AMR, its potential impacts on farm productivity and the welfare of people and their animals, as well as the underlying drivers of AMR, such as poor biosecurity and antimicrobial use.

“The capacity built through this training will contribute significantly to improving production and productivity of smallholder poultry, leading to better food security, nutrition, reduced threats to human health as well as reduced poverty.

“Informed citizenry and farmers are crucial to the realization of livestock and crop production that meets international trade standards in both quantity and quality,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa during the opening webinar for the launch of the course. 

Through education and empowerment of family poultry producers, the FFS approach strengthens knowledge of holistic agro-ecosystem management, improves decision-making skills and facilitates collaboration and collective action.

The approach enables family poultry producers to develop more efficient and sustainable production systems, while improving their capacities to face challenges, including the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

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“Poultry FFS master trainers and facilitators can enable sustainable changes in practices and behaviours that lead to safer and higher-quality animal-source foods, higher profits, and ultimately limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in family poultry systems,” said Keith Sumption, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer and Leader of Animal Health Programme.

Currently the course is covering Zambia and Zimbabwe as a starting point. Efforts will be made to establish collaborations for the roll out of the training in other countries in the region and beyond.

Emphasis will be placed on the trained personnel to go out and make use of the skills gained to cascade knowledge and to facilitate FFS that will lead to more profitable and sustainable enterprises, healthier animals, and address the emergence and spread of AMR.

The concept of FFS can be applied to other animal species to address production and health issues.

The course was developed by a multidisciplinary team from different FAO branches, including the Animal Production and Health Division, the Food Systems and Food Safety Division, the Global Farmer Field School Platform, and FAO country offices in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FAO Niger and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln also contributed with relevant technical content for the course.

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