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Updated: February 14, 2012 01:45 IST

India committed to controlling foot and mouth disease

Gargi Parsai
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Harish Rawat
The Hindu Harish Rawat

India on Monday reinforced its commitment to controlling the contagious “foot and mouth disease'' (FMD) in cattle as a crucial measure to enhance productivity of the livestock.

FMD causes viral fever and it is accompanied by blisters in the mouth and foot of the affected animal. If untreated, it may probe to be fatal.

The direct economic loss from the disease is estimated at Rs. 20,000 crore a year. It also affects the export potential of the livestock industry. The indirect loss due to decline in the work capacity of the animal, higher incidence of abortions, reduced production of milk from infertility and sterility have not even been quantified.

“Controlling the disease will help improve the livelihood of small, marginal and resource poor farmers. It will also help lift the trade barrier with countries that are free from the disease,'' Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Harish Rawat said at an international conference on ‘Scientific Developments and Technical Challenges in the Progressive Control of FMD,' organised jointly by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

India has succeeded in eradicating Rinderpest and the Contagious Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia but has fallen behind in controlling FMD due to shortage of relevant vaccine.

The country produces about 300 million doses of trivalent vaccine per annum against the requirement of 600 to 800 million doses in the next three to five years. The Indian Veterinary Institute is planning to set up a new plant in Public-Private Partnership mode with an estimated capacity of 100 to 150 million doses per annum.

The Minister said the country was home to one of the largest livestock in the world. With a population of about 530 million animals, animal husbandry, after crop production, was the main source of livelihood for marginal and landless, poor farmers. Highlighting the fact that the socio-economic impact of FMD was not well-documented, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth said its local occurrence decreased efficient production parameters in terms of milk production, ability to prepare the fields for crop and irrigation, transportation, reproductive efficiency and expression of animal's genetic potential, bringing income loss.

‘Road map needed'

“A long-term road map for FMD control is required in the South Asian region that has high number of susceptible livestock where several FMD viruses circulate at the same time making virus identification and vaccine selection critical for improved disease management efforts,'' he said.

According to the ICAR, India has adopted a “progressive control pathway'' methodology, involving regional zoning, for the control and eradication of the disease. It is expected that most parts of the country will be rid of the disease by 2030.

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