The Ghana Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) on Thursday called on government to reduce the cost of the import of poultry vaccines to make it accessible to farmers and help increase production of poultry products.
At the 15th Congress and 30th Annual General Meeting on the GVMA in Accra, Dr Ernest N. Barnor, President of the Association, noted that poultry vaccines were far more expensive in Ghana than in neighbouring countries.
He said government must put measures in place to make the vaccines competitive within the sub-region to prevent their being smuggled into Ghana, which, could be a lucrative alternative, but with high risk to the poultry sector.
The Congress was under the theme: "Food safety for a Developing Economy."
Dr Barnor said though government maintained a zero tax regime on veterinary drugs and vaccines to make meat affordable to the public the same could not be said of poultry vaccines.
He said another problem facing the Association was its inability to publish research papers and articles of veterinary subjects due to rising cost in printing and donor fatigue.
"For the past three or four congresses that we have held, it has not been possible to print the proceedings," he said, and appealed to government to assist them.
He said it would not augur well for the association if proceedings on issues like food safety would go unpublished.
Dr Barnor said food safety was a complex issue with many dimensions, including public health, consumer confidence and pesticides with a primary goal to prevent food-borne diseases or contaminants by making food safer.
He suggested that the inclusion of food safety and nutrition education in the curricula of both Junior and Senior Secondary Schools would help to ensure a healthy and active nation.
Major Courage Quashigah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, said under the Livestock Development Project being funded by the African Development Bank, a credit component had been provided to boost the livestock sector.
In a speech read by Mr Kweku Owusu-Baah, Chief Director of the Ministry, he called on the GVMA to place their expertise at the disposal of the farmers to increase the productivity of the animals, generate wealth and reduce poverty.
Major Quashigah said the contribution of the livestock sub-sector to meet food needs had been low with internal production contributing only 30 per cent of national protein requirement in terms of meat, milk and eggs.
He said livestock accounted for nine per cent of agricultural GDP compared to 75 per cent in most countries.
Major Quashigah said food safety and good nutrition could be threatened by bad food habits, poor combination of items in the diet, unhygienic conditions, religious beliefs and taboos heightened by illiteracy.