FAO support for flood-affected livestock farmers in Thailand

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Bangkok, 27 Dec 2011 -- An FAO-funded emergency project will complement Thai government’s efforts to support flood-affected farmers in eight provinces to save their farm animals and go back to their fields as soon as possible through the provision of agricultural and livestock inputs amounting to some Baht 12 million (US$ 400 000).

Thailand was severely affected by the floods since mid-August and flooded areas are currently estimated at over 12.5 percent of Thailand’s total land under cropping.

Out of Thailand’s total livestock population of about 94 million, the floods have affected over 24 million animals - mainly cattle, pigs and buffalo but also other animals such as chicken, goat, sheep and quail.

Animals that survived the floods have been kept at higher ground or isolated highland location and are currently facing a lack of feed. Their health condition is deteriorating and they are at risk of starvation unless emergency supply of animal feed is provided.

“The damage and loss figures are likely to further increase in the near future, and heavily affect the livestock sector which contributes between 20 and 25 percent to agricultural GDP”, said Man Ho So, FAO’s deputy regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, during the project signing ceremony held today at the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives (MoAC) in Bangkok.

The largest numbers and proportions of livestock keepers affected by the floods are in central and lower northern part of Thailand.

Emergency support for small livestock farmers
Some 2 500 poor and vulnerable livestock farmers – owning up to 76 000 animals (cattle, buffaloes, pigs and chicken) - in eight provinces in the most affected regions are selected as the project beneficiaries. Each will receive 30 days of animal feed in the form of concentrate, minerals, vitamins and antiparasites aimed at improving the health condition of the animals.

In addition, 40 livestock farmers’ groups (with 25 people each) will be provided with technical advice and training on animal feeding, basic animal health care and disaster preparedness. A further 20 to 30 government officers will be trained for disaster preparedness including participatory planning and preparing future development proposals.

Selection of the farmers focuses on female-headed households with youth and children. Throughout the needs assessment conducted by the MoAC and FAO in November, women’s participation was prominent in the project formulation.

The provinces are Ayuthaya, Angtong, Chainat, Lopburi, Nakornpathom, Nakornsawan, Saraburi and Sukhothai.

The project will be implemented over a nine-month period with the MoAC responsible for project execution.

From emergency to development
For many smallholder farmers, livestock are the only ready source of cash to buy inputs for crop production - seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.

“Livestock income also goes towards buying things the farmers cannot make for themselves. And that includes paying for school fees, medicine and other daily necessities”, Mr So added.

The provision of livestock inputs will be accompanied by appropriate technical support that will reduce households’ vulnerability to future disasters and facilitate the transition to development.

Given the complex and rapidly evolving nature of this emergency and the importance of ensuring full coordination with other members of the UN and non-governmental partners, the project will utilize a highly flexible approach to determine implementation action as the situation requires.

In Thailand, FAO has worked with NGOs, foundations, community-based organizations and farmers’ groups under previous projects, including emergency projects in the aftermath of tsunami in 2005-2006 as well as flood rehabilitation assistance in 2010.

The international community is supporting the government efforts and the agriculture sector is one of the top priorities in post-disaster needs assessment conducted by the World Bank.