The University of Zambia has been chosen as Southern Africa's node for livestock research, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) has announced. In a recent statement Nepad said the centre's launch was intended to strengthen capacity in bio-sciences.
The Samora Machel School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia and the Livestock and Pest Research Centre at Zambia's National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research will jointly host the SANBio research centre.
"The livestock development node will initiate and coordinate research and development in applied research aimed at reducing the negative impact of tick-borne diseases, Trypanosomes and their vectors, on livestock production in Southern Africa," said the statement.
To underline the seriousness of the problem, Nepad gave as an example the exhorbitant cost of keeping controlled areas free of tsetse fly re-invention - US$283,000 annually in just the Sioma-Ngwezi area of western Zambia.
Speaking at the launch of the regional research initiative, Zambia's Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Peter Daka, said African nations had not paid enough attention to science and technology or its role in national development.
As a result, there had been a deterioration in socio-economic development. It was now urgent for politicians and scientists to colleaborate to find solutions to development challenges.
"It is gratifying to note that the governments of this region have realised that sustainable livestock industry development can only be achieved through a strong, well-coordinated and monitored research and development system," he said.
Daka added that the bio-sciences initiative would support the Southern African Development Community's plan on animal health that seeks, among other things, to encourage scientists in the region to conduct cost-effective, quantifiable and pragmatic research into animal health.
University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steven Simukanga, said improvement of livestock productivity in sub-Saharan African countries was severely constrained by vector-borne parasites and the diseases they cause.
The problem, prevalent across the region, lowers livestock productivity and thus affects the livelihood and nutrition status of large numbers of people, Simukanga said.
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