The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is finalizing preparations to start the production of veterinary vaccines this year. The vaccine production was approved following a visit by a delegation from the African Union Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC) from 17 to 20 December 2019.
During its visit at the Ministry’s National Animal and Plant Health Laboratory (NAPHL), the delegation, which included Dr. Nick Nwankpa, Director of the AU-PANVAC and Dr. Bodjo Sane Charles, senior diagnostic reagent officer, assessed all sections of the laboratory though its main focus was on vaccine production and vaccine quality control.
“If it fulfills its minor limitations, I would put NAPHL among the top five labs in Africa!” Dr. Nick Nwankpa said after visiting the laboratory and assessed NAPHL that is well equipped with modern technology. Members of the delegation recognized the diligence of the young NAPHL staff as the main asset and commended the general laboratory staff for their extraordinary responsibility in the delivery of veterinary services, animal disease control and service to the agricultural sector in general.
NAPHL has been conducting many trials in the last few years, refining the production of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) and Newcastle (NC). The prototype vaccines that had been produced by NAPHL were taken by the delegation to their head office and laboratory based in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, for further quality and proficiency tests. The AU-PANVAC delegation found the overall state of the laboratory to be beyond their expectation and gave useful recommendations on infrastructure, safety facilities and proper usage of equipment.
During the visit, the delegation and the MoA agreed to collaborate on providing master seeds for PPR and NC, cell lines, training, laboratory animals such as guinea pigs and laboratory mice, diagnostic kits and reagents, and involving the Regulatory services in the harmonization of vaccine registration in Africa. Finally the delegation confirmed that in the year 2020, Eritrea would be one of the few African countries that produce vaccines after overcoming the minor challenges.
AU-PANVAC, which was launched on March 12th, 2004 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, is a specialized technical office of the African Union Commission under the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture. It is the only AU organization mandated to provide independent international quality control of all veterinary vaccines either produced in or imported into Africa and the production of essential biological reagents for animal disease diagnosis and surveillance.
- Training on maintenance of pesticide sprayers
The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Commission of Desert Locust Control in the Central Region (CRC), gave a practical training on the maintenance of pesticide sprayers to its 22 staff who are working in locust control operations.
The objective of the training, which was given from December 31, 2019 to January 04, 2020 in Daero-Pawlos, Maekel Region, was to improve the capacity of experts and operators in maintaining pesticide sprayers and managing pesticides. Mr. Tedros Sium, Head of Migratory Pests Control Unit, said, “Due to the harsh conditions of the locust breeding areas and other technical problems, sprayers’ malfunctioning is common, causing some operations to be stopped. It is to solve this acute problem that the training was arranged”.
The five-day training was given by Mr. Ramy Alaraby, senior expert on sprinkler machinery in CRC, and focused on the maintenance of vehicle-mounted and backpack-mounted motorized and manual sprayers.
Participants of the training said that from now on instead of sending malfunctioning sprayers to Asmara for repair, they “will do the job in the control operation fields and save resources”.
At the closing ceremony of the training, Mr. Efriem Kiflu, Head of Administration and Finance division at the MoA, called on the participants to share their knowledge with their colleagues and take care of the equipment that are playing a great role in the fight against locusts.
Mr. Heruy Asgedom, Director General of Agricultural Extension Department, said in a closing remark that the training was given to Eritrea because of its commendable efforts in controlling desert locusts and its location in locust-prone area. He added that Eritrea has never allowed locusts to cross its borders and now it has assumed the extra responsibility to control its inland locust breeding desert. Mr. Heruy reminded the participants to “take this fact into consideration and work hard to translate the training into action and make the locust control operations a success”.
The training was officially closed on Saturday, 05 January at the Headquarters of the Ministry by handing over certificates.
- Desert Locust Situation in Eritrea
The Migratory Pests Control Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture said that desert locust control operation is still underway in the Northern Red Sea Region.
More than 17,000 hectares of land infested with desert locust has been treated in Northern Red Sea Region since November 2019. The control operations are being conducted from five stations: Marsa-Gulbub, Sheeb, Wekiro, Girat (Emahmime) and Foro.
Crop harvesting has started in Sheeb, Afabet and Wekiro while crops in Emberemi and Foro are at their fruiting stage. Crops in Karora and Emahmime are in their seedling and knee-height stages.
According to reports from the Northern Red Sea Region, since the ecological conditions are favorable for locust breeding more infestation is expected, and many swarms are still coming from different directions.
The desert locust situation remains extremely serious in the Horn of Africa where it threatens pastures and crops in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, according to Desert Locust Watch. Many swarms have formed in eastern Ethiopia and adjacent areas of northern Somalia. A number of large immature swarms moved south in the Ogaden of eastern Ethiopia and adjacent areas of central Somalia and reached southern Somalia, southeast Ethiopia and, on 28 December, northeast Kenya.
There is a risk that some swarms could appear in northeast Uganda, southeast South Sudan and southwest Ethiopia. Ground and aerial control operations continue in Ethiopia and aerial operations started in Kenya on 6 January. Insecurity and lack of national capacity have so far not allowed control operations in Somalia. During January, swarms will mature and lay eggs in the Ogaden and north central Somalia that will hatch and cause numerous hopper bands to form. There is a low risk of breeding in Kenya.
A potentially threatening situation is developing along both sides of the Red Sea where ongoing breeding is causing locust numbers to increase on the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Widespread laying and hatching occurred in Saudi Arabia and gave rise to numerous hopper groups and bands, and a few immature swarms moved into the interior in late December. Hopper bands and swarms are also forming on the Red Sea coast in Yemen. More swarms are likely to form in both countries later this month.
In Sudan, hopper bands are forming on the northern coast near Egypt and new swarms could form later in January. Breeding in adjacent areas of southeast Egypt is likely to cause groups to form. A second generation of breeding is in progress and will continue on the central and northern coast of Eritrea where hoppers are forming groups, which could lead to hopper bands. Control operations are in progress in all affected countries.
Ministry of Agriculture