PESHAWAR: The Ministry of National Food Security and Research has been nominated as co-winner of the E. Saouma Award for the project “Development of the National Control Program for Foot and Mouth disease in Pakistan” funded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Technical Cooperation program (TCP).

The award has been bestowed to the Ministry for their project ‘’Development of the National Control Program for Foot and Mouth Disease in Pakistan”, which started in November 2015 and ended in March 2017, says a press release. The project developed a national control program for FMD in Pakistan and demonstrated how different components of this control program can be effectively implemented under local conditions. The project also built capacity of veterinary field staff of the provincial Livestock and Dairy Development Departments in epidemiology and control of FMD.

FAO Representative Ms. Mina Dowlatchahi when announcing the award to Minister Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan said, ‘’I am very pleased of the award the Ministry has received as the recognition of the highest level of engagement of Government of Pakistan in the control of FMD and animal health agenda in the last few years. Thanks to the Ministry NFS&R efforts and with the technical support of FAO, Pakistan has moved from level 1, (where epidemiology of FMD is well understood in the country) to level 2 (where the virus circulation is reduced in high risk areas and the impact of FMD is reduced in targeted sectors). This is in accordance with the OIE scale in its drive to reach level 5 or FMD free status. The FAO will continue working with the Ministry of Food Security and Research to support the government efforts for FMD and PPR free Pakistan.’’

As a fall out of the TCP project, the Ministry of Food Security and Research has formulated and launched in December 2018 a national government funded program (UTF) with the support of FAO, and mobilized the support of JICA in a project called ‘’Enhancement of Foot and Mouth disease control in Pakistan’’ aiming to control the FMD outbreaks in the four provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory. The Saouma award will be presented to the Ministry of Food Security and Research in Rome, on June 26, 2019.

The award is in honour of former FAO Director General, Edouard Saouma for his conception and implementation of the Technical Cooperation Program, and is presented to national institutions that have implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by the TCP. The TCP was created to enable FAO to make its know-how and technical expertise available to member countries upon request, drawing from its own core resources. The TCP provides assistance in all areas pertaining to FAO’s mandate and competence that are covered by the strategic framework to respond to government priority needs. The TCP is an established and highly valued component of UN FAO action in the field, allowing rapid mobilization of resources either to respond to emergencies or to meet technical assistance needs.

Productivity of livestock in Pakistan has been generally low. One of the main reasons is frequent occurrence of infectious diseases particularly foot and mouth disease. The FMD reported in animals in pre-partition has been seen since independence in Pakistan. The disease was usually seen as a mild febrile infection with mild lesions in cattle and buffaloes with a seasonal pattern (usually wheat harvest time or change of weather) up to early 1970s. Now the disease is endemic and wide spread in Pakistan and occurs throughout the year. The FMD is currently the most widespread livestock infectious disease in the country and is economically harmful to livestock herders and family farmers.