Consolidated Responses for the PAFPNet Discussion for the month of April 2015

Date: 07/04/2015 – 27/04/2015

"Livestock Production in the Changing Environment of Pacific Islanders"

The PAFPNet topic for the month of April, "Livestock Production in the Changing Environment of Pacific Islanders", focused on two questions on livestock development in the Pacific region. The two questions highlighted the key constraints of livestock production in the Pacific with suggested solutions to address the challenges. The key objective of this query was to encourage stakeholder participation towards the improvement of national livestock production.

Livestock production, like crop production, is fundamental for food security in the Pacific. However, feedback on the discussion forum identified that the focus on livestock development is weak and measures must be taken to strengthen emphasis and progression in this area.

The high cost of livestock feed was highlighted as one of the major constraints in the livestock industry. According to the discussion, the main reason for high cost of stock feed is due to its importation. As a result of local stock feed shortage, importing feed is essential to cater for livestock population.  PNG said stock feed cost is literally killing the industry. Expensive feed leads to higher production costs, thus contributing to higher price for local meat supply which further leads to cheaper consumer alternatives (canned meat etc). In addition, although local feed is available, the quality of it is very poor; hence the substitute of imported feed. The quality of feed can either have a negative or positive effect on livestock animals. Therefore, having feed quality that is well below the average standard can have an adverse effect on the sustenance of livestock.

The unavailability of land has been identified as another major livestock restriction especially in smaller Pacific Island Countries (PICs). Members made mention that limited land space is seen as a hindrance to the growth of the livestock sector. The competition for land among other infrastructural development alongside population pressure puts a limiting cap on expanding livestock development. Another contributing factor to this issue is the immense price tag placed on land purchase. It is either too expensive for farmers to buy or is inherited with the obligation of land sharing amongst multiple farmers.

The livestock sector is also suffering as a result of inadequate facilities, equipment unavailability and poor road access. These issues need to be addressed as they play a major role for livestock water supply system, slaughtering, sanitary treatment, health, management and livestock sector service access.

Other problematic factors agreed on by our participants, affecting the livestock sector, were the out-dated animal health and development policies and the lack of professional veterinarians and veterinary services.Without practical policies and legislations implemented/renewed and the initiation of training for the veterinary profession, the livestock sector will continue to lack funding support for livestock development in the PICs.

Measures were also discussed as possible solutions to the livestock constraint. Contributors on the forum suggested that in identifying and producing local feed formulations, this would reduce reliance on alternative feed imports. Other suggestions included carrying out surveys of available local feeds as an initial step to establishing a local feed resource database as well as creating feed marketing systems to improve farmer access to livestock feed.

Recommendations for the land issue included adopting viable production systems and technologies that would include the best traditional practices to improve production.  Outside intervention from private and public sector for financial support and sponsorship was also seen as being key to improving the functionality of the livestock industry.

Similarly members agreed on placing more emphasis on implementing and initiating additional training for livestock farmers in the rural areas to help maximize livestock production. This would include knowledge sharing as a means of strengthening and expanding Paravet training. Policy development was also reviewed in the discussion to help increase access to funding for market infrastructure and access to market information, which would assist farmers to improve the trade of their livestock products.

This query triggered a lot of valuable information to help in the development and progression of the Livestock industry here in the Pacific. Revamping the involvement of livestock stakeholders is essential to undertaking the constraints faced by this industry. Overall, all members found it crucial that all existing legislations and policies related to national livestock development, objectives, scope and strategic outcomes be reviewed and updated to help foster a more sustainable livestock industry.