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IAR&T/FAO trains Veterinary Paraprofessionals on Preventive Healthcare
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Sat, 30 Sep 2023   ||   Nigeria,

The Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), a multi-disciplinary research Institute Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, in furtherance of its mandate on facilitating Research and Training into land, crop and livestock development, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), has on Friday, 29th of September, 2023 presented certificates to 25 veterinary paraprofessionals.

Speaking at the presentation of award certificates to the trainees, the Executive Director of IAR&T, Prof Veronica Obatolu, reiterated the institute's commitment to the development of agriculture, through entrepreneurial and research-based trainings.

To strengthen this mandate, the institute has partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in the training of veterinary paraprofessionals (VPP'S), to serve the livestock producing population in the country to enhance capacity tp provide preventive healthcare for business growth. She further stated that the institute will continue to provide a conducive training and research facility for sustaining food security, and contribute positively to the development of agriculture in the country.

"The population of Veterinary Practitioners in the country today cannot cater to the high number of livestock farmers in the country, therefore it becomes pertinent to build capacity in the veterinary profession to improve livestock production and grow income for smallholder farmers", she said.

While delivering her welcome address, the IAR&T boss said the training exposed the VPP's to effective communication skills and other clinical examination processes required to tackle current challenges in veterinary practice, and meet the needs of the livestock industry.

"There is no doubt that VPP's often serve as the first responders to livestock smallholder farmers in the nation, hence, they must be properly trained and retrained" she stated, while speaking on the importance of the training to the growth of the livestock industry.

The training, tagged; “Growing your business through preventive livestock healthcare”, lasted 7 months, during which the VPP's were exposed to various advanced and updated knowledge in animal preventive healthcare delivery and the business skills required for the sustainable growth of the livestock industry.

The VPP's were trained in vaccination and detection of early warning signs of livestock disease, and communicating effective business skills to livestock farmers to boost production, prevent disease and increase profitability.

The Director expressed appreciation to FAO for the virtual learning initiative introduced into the training programme, and the dedication and commitment of the trainers. She expressed optimism that other stakeholders will collaborate more with the institute to bridge the gap in the livestock business.

In a chat with CEOAFRICA, the Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Professor Veronica Obatolu said, asides from providing a conducive learning environment to VPPs, the institute is poised to make the training a continuing process and partner with other stakeholders to build capacity in the veterinary profession in the country.

Dr. Otto Vianney Muhindra, of the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (FA O-ECTAD), representing the FAO country Director, said the VPP project is one of FAO's important activities in 3 countries in Africa namely, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa. "The FAO, in partnership with The World Veterinary Association, designed the project to address animal health concerns in the grassroots and assist small holder farmers in achieving healthy livestock and increase production and sustainable development of animal stock", he said. Muhindra called on the VPP's, who have been selected from Oyo and Kaduna State, to recognise their roles as very important stakeholders in the livestock industry and work closely with their respective state directors to assist in maintenance services in their annual disease reporting and monitoring, in order to point out early warning signs of diseases in livestock.

While delivering her goodwill message, the Veterinary Council of Nigeria President, AIG, Dr. Aishat Abubakar Baju reiterated the importance of the training, not just for the veterinary profession, but the nation at large.

Baju further stated that the project is in line with the president's commitment to elevating animal health services in the country to ensure food security in the country. According to her, VPP's are an important part of the veterinary profession and it is the duty of the Veterinary Council of Nigeria to ensure they receive the highest standards of training, to equip them to confront the current challenges of food security.

Baju further revealed that the council is actively seeking an amendment of the veterinary Surgeons Act, to ensure that VPP's have a voice in policy formulation in the livestock industry in Nigeria. Speaking on the progress the council has recorded, in advancing the veterinary practice in the country, Dr. Badru said veterinary documents are now subject to a seal of authentication, and geo mapping of veterinary premises are now being carried out across the country, to safeguard the integrity of the profession and improve public health, while utilizing a global approach.

She urged the veterinary paraprofessionals to contribute their part in curbing the challenges of emerging and re-emerging diseases in livestock, and assist the government in tackling the issue of food security in the country. Badru thanked the institute for providing a conducive environment for learning to the VPP's, alongside the trainers, and the FAO for their support towards upholding the highest standards in the veterinary profession.

The Veterinary Council of Nigeria President, Dr. Aishat Abubakar, in a chat with CEOAFRICA, said the President of the country Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has shown his commitment to the livestock industry to ensure food security in the country, by setting up The Livestock Reform committee. "The training of these veterinary paraprofessionals will further assist the government's vision of ensuring food security in the country"

The Group Managing Director of Amo farms, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan while delivering his goodwill message, charged the VPP's to go out and take over the world through their Veterinary Paraprofessional practice. Speaking on how the broiler chicken became a subject of global research and became a highly commercial poultry product, he admonished the VPP's to insist on giving the best at their different service posts, to further grow the livestock industry in Nigeria.

The Oyo State Commissioner for Agriculture, Barrister Olasunkanmi Olaleye, while giving his goodwill message, highlighted some of the giant strides the administration of Governor Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde is making, in the area of providing infrastructure to support the veterinary industry.

He said the Oyo State government has completed the construction of the 76.67km Ogbomoso-Iseyin road and have flagged-off the 34.85 Km Oyo-Iseyin road to ease movement of farm produce from the rural areas to the city centres to promote food security and boost business for smallholder farmers. He reiterated the government of Oyo State's support for the agricultural sector, while congratulating the graduands on the successful completion of their training.

One of the participants at the award ceremony, Mr. Abioye Faith Adekunle said the training has been a wonderful experience for him and all the other VPP's, stating that the knowledge gained at the training will further equip the VPP's in contributing positively to growing the business of livestock farmers in the country, for better food security and

Distinguished present at the event, include; the Executive Director, IAR&T, Prof Veronica Obatolu, Nigeria representative of FAO, Dr. Otto Vianney Muhindra, the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof Simeon Bamire, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor(Research, Innovation and Development),Professor Akanni Akinyemi, the Commissioner for Agriculture in Oyo state, Barrister Olasunkanmi Olaleye, the President, Veterinary Council of Nigeria, AIG, Dr. Aishat Abubakar Baju.

Other guests at the event are the FAO Global Project Coordinator, Africa Region, Dr. Holly Huffnagel , The Group Managing Director of Amo farms, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, Deputy Director,IAR&T,Dr J.A.Adetumbi, Deputy Registrar/Secretary to the Institute ,Mr Boye Popoola and  professors  in IAR&T.


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