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« PROTEGER LES RACES QUI  ONT FINI PAR S’ADAPTER AVEC LES CONDITIONS LOCALES » C’est l’objectif fixé par Mahen Seeruttun, ministre de l’Agro-industrie et de la Sécurité alimentaire. Prenant la parole lors de l’assemblée générale sur les ressources génétiques animales, il devait souligner que la fièvre aphteuse qui avait décimé, en 2016, nombre d’animaux à Maurice -vaches/bœufs/moutons/cabris/porcs – a démontré les faiblesses de notre bio-sécurité.

Cette conférence viserait donc à dégager des stratégies pour renforcer la sécurité alimentaire et encourager l’élevage d’animaux sains en Afrique. La vache créole à Maurice, fait ressortir le ministre Seeruttun, est en danger de disparition. Une cinquantaine d’années de cela, le pays comptait 30 000 vaches de cette race et actuellement il ne reste qu’une centaine. Pour préserver des races spécifiques dans toute l’Afrique les membres du bloc SADC réunis à Maurice sont pour des politiques et de lois appropriées à ce sujet.

Ci-dessous le discours prononcé par le ministre Seeruttun le lundi 9 octobre à Quatre-Bornes.

“ It is indeed a great pleasure and a privilege for me to welcome you all for the opening ceremony of the 4th General Assembly and the Steering Committee of the Sub Regional Focal Point on Animal Genetic Countries to Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of African Animal Genetic Resources.

We are honored that Mauritius has been chosen to host this important stakeholders’ meeting and hope to meet your expectations in all aspects.

The economic importance of livestock in our country may not compare with that of the other African countries.

However, we are conscious that Africa represents a tremendous opportunity for livestock development in its quest to address food and nutrition security, improve livelihoods and reduce poverty.

We recognize the importance of sustainable use of Animal Genetic Resources for the development of livestock production to meet the future challenges as mentioned in the Global Plan of Action – GPA – for Animal Genetic Resources.

We also acknowledge that the formulation of appropriate livestock policies, strategies and legislations is a major concern in looking forward for the improvement of livestock development.

We will be celebrating the World Food Day in a few days, such initiatives aiming at increasing food security, resilience to climate change and improving livelihoods should be encouraged and supported.

Mauritius being a net food importer relies heavily on exporting countries and therefore, we welcome initiatives aiming at improving food security in the region.

In fact, although we are almost self-sufficient in poultry and venison we produce only 3% of our requirement in milk and dairy products and 10% of our requirement for red meat.

Our reliance on import put us at risk with respect to disease threats.

This threat has further been exacerbated by the high level of transboundary movement of livestock and livestock products.

With more frequent and enhanced traffic facilities, the risks of introducing new diseases have indeed increased dramatically.

In fact, until recently, Mauritius used to benefit from disease free status as far as major OIE-listed diseases are concerned.

However, the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease last year revealed the vulnerability of our livestock sector confronted with the importation of livestock and livestock products.

This outbreak could have resulted in more catastrophic situation had it not been for the prompt measures taken to contain the disease and for support provided in identification of the virus strain, provision of vaccines, and carrying out the vaccination campaigns from other support institutions.

I seize this opportunity to thank the SADC Member States especially Botswana and South Africa who assisted us in the identification of the viral strain and Botswana for having promptly delegated an expert in FMD from BVI to assist us and for the provision of vaccines.

The introduction of FMD in Mauritius has highlighted the weaknesses of our biosecurity system.

In this context a Biosecurity Committee has been set up to, inter alia, undertakes a stocktaking of measures in place, identify limitations and propose recommendations.

We are in the process of recruiting a consultant in this respect. I believe AU-IBAR could assist us.

Regarding policies and strategies, I must concede that past strategies to boost up the livestock sector did not produce the expected results, on the contrary the population of cattle has been declining over the years and that of goat has been stagnating.

It is worth noting that previous policies have mostly favoured the importation of improved genetics which unfortunately did not adapt to local conditions and resulted in further decline in the cattle population.

For the first time, the conservation of local genetic resources has been included in strategies of the Government as spelt out in the Strategic Plan 2016-2020 wherein emphasis is being laid on conservation and utilization of Animal Genetic Resources.

In this respect, a programme is being implemented specifically for the conservation of the local Creole cattle.

This breed used to be the most important cattle breed in Mauritius during the 60’s with a population of 33,000 heads and representing 77% of the local herd.

Today statistics reveal that apart from the nucleus herd of 48 heads that is being maintained at FAREI Livestock Research Station there are only 45 heads at farm level.

I am also pleased to inform that the private sector is collaborating in the conservation programme and a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between CASELA and FAREI with the objective of promoting conservation strategies through awareness creation on issues related to conservation and utilization of Animal Genetic Resources.

I seize this opportunity to thank AU-IBAR for their support towards Mauritius in the AnGR programme through the approval of an in-situ conservation project under the “Support to AU-IBAR States under Genetics Project (Mauritius).

I am sure the administrative issues related to disbursement of funds will be sorted out soon so that the project can start.

The contribution of AU-IBAR in the setting up of the Livestock Policy Hub under the Vet-Gov Project is also worth mentioning here.

We recognize the difficulties to develop breeding programmes with a small population but we also endeavor to safeguard our local genetics.

In this respect, a sub-committee of the livestock Policy Hub has been set up to work on a livestock breeding policy.

This policy will be integrated in the ‘Livestock Production Bill’ that is currently being drafted and which will include a component for the conservation and utilization of local AnGR.

I have been told that we need expertise to work on this and I am sure there is no dearth of experts to assist through support from AU-IBAR.

In the same vein, I understand that there have been several initiatives to support the setting up of livestock information and traceability system as a monitoring tool and that there were some issues associated with the use of existing system such as ARIS 2.

During the management of the FMD last year the lack of a proper and reliable database has been greatly felt.

In this context, we are in the process of setting up a ‘National Animal Identification System’.

I would appreciate if the AU-IBAR expert in the region could assist us in this endeavor.

Finally, I wish to congratulate you for the work that has been accomplished so far especially with the dedicated staff of AU-IBAR, the Secretariat, National Coordinators, associations and experts who have endeavored to ensure that Africa is not left behind in the global thrust to achieve sustainable utilization and conservation of these very important genetic resources.

I am sure that through the establishment of regional networks for information sharing, lessons learning and coordination of AnGR initiatives, Member States in the SADC region will be able to fulfil their commitments to the global initiatives on management of these resources.

And they will be better prepared to address the threat of climate change considering the important role that indigenous genetic resources will play in terms of resilience to this challenge.

Last but not least, I wish you all a fruitful meetings and all the best in your deliberations.

Ladies and Gentleman, I now declare the meeting open.”

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