Feed is an integral part of the food chain, recognizes the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The safety of animal feed is a shared value and a shared responsibility for the whole food chain.
The rapidly growing population along with increased urbanization and income is expected to increase the consumption of animal products by 70% in 2050. The challenge is not only to meet the growing demand for food and thus for feed, but to ensure its safety.
Feed production must therefore be subject, in a similar manner as food production, to the quality assurance of integrated food safety systems. This is why the FAO made a call to all stakeholders in the animal production chain to join forces in a Feed Safety Multi Stakeholder Partnership (MSP).
This MSP aims at improving the safety of feed, and thus enhancing food safety, animal health and welfare and food security, focussed on developing countries.
The ultimate goal is to assure the responsibility of the whole chain in livestock production and to make all stakeholders involved responsible of the problems when it comes to feed contamination, the transmission of zoonotic agents, mycotoxins et cetera, Daniella Battaglia, Livestock Development Officer at FAO, declares. ‘Feed should be safe for the environment, for animals and for the citizens.’
‘Our biggest achievement’, Battaglia addresses, ‘will be raising awareness on the benefits of responsible feed production, and have companies, producers, smallholder farmers, together with governmental authorities contributing, through safer feed, to public and animal health and food security.’
Skills and know-how
In addition to increasing feed- and therefore food security at local level, the MSP will also support the safety of feed ingredients in international trade. ‘The primary target however,’ Battaglia from the FAO emphasizes, ‘lies with the small and medium-scaled producer in developing countries. Adequate information and knowledge are very useful for producers who may lack skills and know-how.’
One of the partners from the beginning is IFIF: the International Feed Industry Federation. IFIF and the FAO have a long standing collaborative relationship, particular in the area of feed safety. Together they developed the Manual of Good Practices for the Feed Industry.
‘This manual continues to form the basis of our activities in this area’, tells Alexandra de Athayde, executive director of IFIF, who took part in the very first MSP Steering Group meeting.
At this meeting the first lines where set out about what to do with the FAO ambitions to further increase feed safety everywhere in the world. ‘The MSP is an important opportunity to bring different kind of stakeholders with a focus on improving feed safety in developing countries together around the table to share, elaborate and support concrete actions’, De Athayde explains.
‘It is a partnership in which we can also exchange information. If, for example, someone is working in Ghana on the training of feed companies, we could join forces to amplify the impact on the ground.’ For example: IFIF has already developed a project to support capacity development for feed safety in developing regions. The first pilot took place in Nigeria end last year (read the story about this example on Farming Afcrica).
The MSP has quite some tasks assumed: sharing scientific information, knowledge and data; supporting countries in developing or update their legislation; and training and education.
This is why so many different stakeholders are needed in the partnership. The FAO aims to have intergovernmental organizations, governmental authorities, academia, farmers, producers and the private sector and the civil society joining.
The FAO convened a very first meeting of the MSP Steering Group end June. All relevant partners where present, but Battaglia hopes to get more small- and medium scale producers associations on board. But she also called for research centres to be involved. ‘We would, for instance, be very happy to have Wageningen UR involved. We worked with them before and I hope they will be interested to join us.’
© Marc van der Sterren
This is a translation from a publication in the Dutch magazine De Molenaar.
About Marc van der Sterren