Bioscience - its impact on animal production and aquaculture
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CTA. 1990. Bioscience - its impact on animal production and aquaculture. Spore 27. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) annual Royal Agricultural Show in July 1989
Animals are kept for a variety of reasons but in the developing world their purpose is primarily for food, transport or as a sign of wealth and status. They are kept in a variety of husbandry systems and in different numbers, from the single domestic cow to the large flocks and herds maintained in a range of systems. Their role as a source of nutrition is vital: by the end of the century, it is estimated, there will be four mouths to feed for every three there are now. Although world production is increasing, and in some commodities global surpluses exist, these can often disguise local scarcities. Maintaining and increasing food security is the challenge for the last decade of the millennium, but this must be done in price competitive terms. This will entail improvements in production efficiency, especially of those domestic animals which occupy an important place in the food chain. Science is now providing both new directions and new tools for those who are concerned with the management of animal production. The impact of bioscience (which covers the fields of nutrition, environment, disease, genetic selection, endocrinology, and chromosome manipulation) and its contribution to the progress of animal production worldwide, was the subject of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) annual Royal Agricultural Show in July 1989. Sub-Saharan Africa may not be totally representative of other developing regions in the world, but as a whole it represents the worst possible situation facing the agricultural sector of all the developing countries: frequent man-made and natural disasters have severely weakened the economy, particularly in the agricultural sector and present livestock productivity levels remain well Wow those in other developing countries. Thus an examination of how new technologies and research can increase productivity, and the constraints on these will increase understanding of the situation in other developing economies. In sub-Saharan Africa, livestock account for 5% of the total GDP and 18% of the agricultural GDP. Their contribution to daily calorie and protein intakes was well below the average for developing countries and any increases in recent years have lagged well behind those in population growth. Nutrition and control of animal diseases rather than genetic improvement are the problems which the governments of developing, particularly sub-Saharan African countries, must address. The development of such technologies requires a serious research effort. One contributor to the RASE symposium, Addis Anteneh of International Livestock Centre for Africa (ILCA), gave it as his opinion that all too often African agricultural researchers have to follow the brain drain trail to western high tech firms and research organizations. Trypanosomiasis research Two international research institutes have a mandate primarily emphasizing animal research in sub-Saharan Africa: ILCA and International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD). An ILCA/ILRAD collaborative research programme on trypanotolerance promises a considerable impact on future livestock production in those areas with low to medium tsetse challenge. Possibilities of trypanotolerant genetic transfers would facilitate even more rapid expansion of animal production in those same areas. Such developments would also permit better utilization of the vast areas of Africa currently affected by the tsetse. However, Praofessor Maxwell Murray, head of the veterinary medicine department of the University of Glasgow's Veterinary School, said that in his opinion there was little doubt that the optimum long-term solution would be a combination of genetically resistant animals and a cheap vaccine effective against different species of trypanosomes. Aquaculture development Unlike African livestock production, aqua culture is one area in which all six branches of bioscience can be of benefit to developing countries. In nutrition, considerably research is being applied in the key areas a micro-encapsulation of feeds for larval diet and feed formulation for species in tropical and sub-tropical areas. In disease control major developments in vaccine production and improved diagnostic methods will lea. to more efficient treatment. In the future the introduction of transgenic fish will have enormous potential benefits while conventional genetic selection offers the possibility of medium to long-term improvement. In endocrinology and chromosome manipulation new techniques offer quick solutions to several problems, including sexual maturation, manipulation of spawning time and induced ovulation an preservation of gametes. In the field of aquaculture, government c overseas aid money is vital in the initial steps of any enterprise, but industry-led research will provide the most rapid progress during the development and production process. The RASE symposium drew a clear line between those areas of bioscience which are of use to developing countries and those which cannot yet be applied because of political, financial, research or other constraints.
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