USAID/Yemen – Unhealthy animal markets threaten human and animal health
Although livestock is a primary source of income to many farmers in Yemen, accounting for over 50 percent of their income, the absence of healthy animal markets is a serious threat to this sector, according to a recent report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Yemen.
The report, which focused on improving livestock production and marketing in Yemen, said that the domestic livestock market and animal husbandry -raising cattle for milk and meat- were in decline, causing serious poverty among small producers in Yemen.
Yemen’s animal markets are disorganized and places of parasites infections, it said.
“The informal markets such as Noqum animal market in the Sana’a governorate and the Marawia and Bajil markets in Hodeida governorate, are extremely chaotic and a breeding ground for disease and parasite infestation,” said the report.
The report also criticized the infrastructure of these markets, which reportedly lacked essential services.
“There are no veterinarian services or other agricultural input services available at the market,” pointed out the report.
For instance, the report gave an example on how the absence of these services highly affects the lives of animals and livelihoods of those who rear them.
“If there are sick livestock that are in need of veterinary services, the producer has to call and make arrangements for treatment,” said the report. “The sick animals are held in the same area as the healthy animals.”
Moreover, the report added that the location of current animal markets in Yemen are not appropriate and could be a factor in diseases spreading among animals and humans.
“All of these markets are located in the center of the town population, causing a high probability of cross-contamination between human and animals,” explained the report.
Quarantine ‘in disrepair’
The report described quarantine process at entry ports for imported animals from the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia entered Yemen as in complete disrepair.
“The quarantine process in Yemen is in complete disrepair, and there is a complete lack of financial and technical support at the quarantine facilities,” said the report.
Furthermore, the report said that imported animals are not being tested. Those in charge of the quarantine merely observe the animal for two days and then release it to Yemeni markets.
“There is no testing of livestock disease, with animals only observed for two days before being released into the general Yemen animal market,” noted the report.
The report went on to say that no regulations are imposed for quarantine to check if animals are sick upon entry to Yemen.
“Quarantine for sick animals is up to the individual traders, and they usually are held in the same area as the healthy animals,” said the report.
Domestic livestock malnourished
The report classified livestock in Yemen into two categories. The first category is domestic livestock, which is small in weight and size.
The second is imported livestock of cattle and sheep, bigger than in weight and size than domestic livestock.
The report attributed reasons of the small size and weight of domestic livestock to malnutrition, parasite infestation, and poor genetic vigor.
The report also criticized the behavior of some Yemeni farmers who sell young cattle and sheep.
“The sale of under-finished (term used to describe animals who have obtained full weight) and immature, poor-health domestic stock is prevalent in these informal markets throughout Yemen,” concluded the report.
The report found that domestic livestock is in sharp decline whereas imported livestock is on the increase due to the local demand.
“There is a severe decline in the domestic animal market in Yemen compared to the overall market demand in Yemen,” it said.
Imported livestock of the rise
The report also said that the business of importing livestock is in progress.
“In the present livestock market, imported livestock are far more profitable for the traders than buying and selling in the domestic market,” the report said.
“During the ten-year period 1995 to 2005, there was a 643 percent increase in the number of livestock imported into Yemen.”
The report examined the problem of domestic livestock declining and came to the conclusion that many factors led to this situation.
“A lack of forage and feed grains that force producers to sell immature animals in the marketplace, diseases such as PPR (Peste de Petit Ruminants), Sheep and Goat Pox, Foot and Mouth Disease, Brucellosis, and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP), that are widespread in livestock contributed to the decline of domestic livestock production in Yemen,” explained the report.
The report also indicated that drought has a direct effect to the declining of domestic livestock in Yemen that usually force producers to sell their livestock.
“High mortality rates in the domestic livestock sector, which leaves producers with a lack of motivation to adopt livestock also is a big factor in the declining of animals husbandry,” indicated the report.
The report suggested a number of solutions for the Yemeni Ministry of Agriculture to improve animal markets to develop the livestock industry in Yemen, and motivate producers to give priority to their livestock.
The report recommended increasing supply and demand, and ultimately creating a sustainable and profitable market, through improved integration between producers and traders working simultaneously at the farm and industry level.
The capacity of livestock producers should be strengthened to increase production through sound and basic animal husbandry practices.
It recommended to develop quality livestock that are disease-free, produce good value for the Yemeni consumer, and create demand for the regional export market.
Veterinarian service should be improved to include providing vaccinations, medical supplies, artificial insemination, and distribution of feed supplements and mineral blocks.
The report suggested that all these veterinarian services work through something it called a “livestock sale barn,” a unit in which both producer and trader work together.
It recommended support to training programs for health and nutrition, including targeted information distribution on proper animal husbandry practices to producers and traders.
Moreover, said the report, official Yemeni agencies need to be given the authority to quarantine imported and domestic animals that carry disease in upgraded centers, notably with confinement pens and laboratory equipment.
Finally, the Yemeni government should provide access to credit to all farmers, extremely critical for the sustainable success of the USAID’s livestock sale barn program.