The African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), operating under the Directorate of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment of the African Union Commission, recently embarked on a mission with the support of EU funding for the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Programme for Africa. This mission, held in Naivasha, Kenya from September 4th to 8th, 2023, focused on drafting a Continental Acaricide Resistance Management Strategy for Africa. The overarching goal of this initiative is to combat the spread of acaricide resistance, ultimately safeguarding the agricultural and economic interests of AU member states.
Specific Objectives and Scope
The mission's specific objectives encompassed a diverse range of critical areas. Firstly, the mission aimed to assess the current status and impact of acaricide resistance in different African regions, recognizing that comprehending the extent of this problem is fundamental to formulating effective solutions. Additionally, the gathering of African countries was intended to foster the exchange of experiences and best practices in acaricide resistance management, thereby facilitating cross-border collaboration. A significant outcome of this mission was the development of a harmonized Acaricide Resistance Management Strategy for Africa, firmly grounded in evidence-based approaches.
Participants in the mission diligently identified funding opportunities and potential partnerships crucial for supporting the implementation of this strategy. Equally vital was the mission's objective to enhance regional trade in animal and animal products through the reinforcement of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures. Lastly, the mission sought to bolster the performance of national veterinary services within AU member states, with a particular emphasis on the ECOWAS and ECCAS regions, focusing on certification, inspection, and quarantine procedures for trade.
The mission was punctuated by several noteworthy highlights. Foremost, the meeting was officially inaugurated by Mr. Chiluba Mwape, the SPS Officer in the AUC-Agriculture and Food Security Division, who acted on behalf of H.E Ambassador Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Sustainable Environment (ARBE) of the African Union Commission (AUC). During his opening remarks, Mr. Mwape underscored the pivotal role of vibrant African agriculture in alignment with Agenda 2063, CAADP, and the UN SDGs. He also emphasized the detrimental impact of animal diseases, especially ticks and tick-borne diseases, on animal production and food security. Furthermore, he stressed the urgency of addressing and effectively managing tick resistance to acaricides by developing a Continental Acaricide Resistance Management Strategy. Mr. Mwape expressed gratitude for the EU's financial support for the meeting and affirmed AUC's commitment to supporting AU member states in their agricultural production and food security endeavours.
Subsequently, Mr. John Oppong-Otoo, the Food Safety Officer at AU-IBAR, presented the Director's remarks on behalf of Dr. Huyam Salih, Director of AU-IBAR. He highlighted the necessity of harnessing the potential of the livestock and agriculture sector in Africa, especially in achieving the targets of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. However, he acknowledged the challenges posed by animal diseases, particularly ticks and tick-borne diseases, and the additional hindrance of tick resistance to acaricides across all AU member states. Mr. Oppong-Otoo emphasized the importance of harmonizing animal health policies to reduce the impact of diseases on both animal and human health. He expressed optimism regarding the successful development of the Continental Acaricide Resistance Management Strategy, citing the existing partnerships, strong collaboration, and high-level expertise evident during the meeting.
Dr. Obadiah Njagi, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Kenya, participated in the meeting and extended his gratitude to the organizers for selecting Kenya as the host country. Dr. Joseph Magona, the AMR Expert at AU-IBAR, presented crucial background information related to the development of the Continental Acaricide Resistance Strategy, outlining its objectives and expected outcomes. The mission featured a comprehensive program that included oral presentations, plenary discussions, group work sessions, and the drafting of the strategy. Key experts specializing in ticks and tick-borne diseases made significant contributions through their presentations, sharing insights into the acaricide resistance situation in various African countries and related topics. Dr. Abel Biguezoton, a Researcher from CIRDES in Burkina Faso, took the lead in guiding the strategy drafting process, facilitating a collective effort toward its development.
Additionally, Mr. Kennedy Oroko, AU-IBAR, delivered a presentation focused on the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) components of the strategy. These M&E components were elucidated to underscore the importance of elements such as vision, mission, strategic objectives, and various stages of implementation, including problem identification, objective setting, and outcome assessment.
Throughout the meeting, critical issues were deliberated upon, leading to essential recommendations. These included proposals to promote centers of excellence for acaricide testing, encourage governments to support acaricide testing in their respective countries, and explore alternative interventions such as anti-tick vaccines. The participants also discussed the significance of data sharing agreements between governments, academia, and the private sector, promoting research in Africa on ticks, tick-borne diseases, and acaricide resistance, and enhancing the judicious use of acaricides to preserve their effectiveness and prevent further resistance. Other key topics included the role of wildlife in the spread of acaricide resistance, unconventional practices involving antibiotics in tick-borne infection management, leveraging work on antimicrobial resistance and chemical residues in the food chain to attract funding for acaricide resistance management, and market dynamics influencing the sale of acaricides to farmers.
Results and Key Recommendations
Key recommendations emerged for AU-IBAR, chemical manufacturers, and AU member states, all aimed at promoting awareness, research, and cooperation in combating acaricide resistance. Further sessions are planned to complete, validate, and disseminate the draft Continental Acaricide Resistance Management Strategy for Africa between October and December 2023.
In conclusion, this mission underscores the commitment of AU-IBAR, in collaboration with various stakeholders, to tackle the critical issue of acaricide resistance in Africa. By developing a comprehensive strategy and fostering cooperation among member states, it is poised to make a substantial impact on animal health, food security, and the continent's agricultural landscape.