National Academy of Agricultural Sciences organized a brainstorming session on ‘Impact of COVID‑19 on Livestock & Poultry Sector’ on 24th June, 2022 under the Chairmanship of Dr. T. Mohapatra, President, NAAS with Dr. AK Srivastava, Vice Chancellor, DUVASU as co-chair. The convenor of the BSS was Dr. RK Singh, former Director & Vice-Chancellor, ICAR-IVRI, Izatnagar with Dr. D. Bardhan, Pr. Scientist, ICAR-ATARI, Zone IX, Jabalpur as co-convenor. Dr. JK Jena, DDG (FS), ICAR, Dr. H. Rahman, Regional Representative, ILRI South Asia and Dr. Abhijit Mitra, Director, ICAR-CIRC and Dr. Vijay Kumar, Pr. Scientist, Directorate of Poultry Research, Hyderabad attended the meeting at NAAS secretariat. Directors and Scientists from ICAR (AS) institutes, Vice Chancellors from several Veterinary Universities, Animal husbandry Commissioner, GOI, also participated in the meeting online (total online participants was 30).
Sector-specific presentations were made of the impact of COVID 19 on livestock, viz. dairy, poultry, fisheries, feed & meat industries and also breeding & health. Specific policy inputs were also given on managing veterinary services, supply chain solutions, challenges in veterinary science education and role of extension services in mitigating impact of pandemic.
Panel discussion was held wherein relevant inputs were received from panelists with regard to the way forward to address the adverse impact that COVID 19 on stakeholders across supply chains as well as to address future onset of pandemics. Several important inputs were provided by the participants during the discussion.
Overall policy implications coming out from the brainstorming session were to use the learnings from COVID 19 impact to document the policies for the country as a whole so as to mitigate the adverse impact of such pandemics in future. In this context, the role of innovative technologies in reducing the scope of human-to-human contact to ensure continued operations of processing plants needs to be explored. Preparedness to address future shocks from pandemics in terms of ensuring smooth supply of raw materials, like feeds, semen, even curative and preventive veterinary services to ensure supply chains operate normally is critical. It is also vital to study the supply chains in details and identify points of interventions based on risk assessment. Apart from that, it was felt that one-health approach must be adopted to address the environmental, human and animal health impacts. Development of diagnostics & vaccines for challenging diseases (like ASF, MERS, LSD and RVF) and strengthening surveillance system is very vital. Overall, it was felt that lack of data is one of the critical factors in estimating the true quantitative impact of COVID 19. Relevant data is crucial for decision making to be best prepared for mitigating negative impact of future pandemics. This also becomes more important as there are several hidden costs of COVID 19 on livestock which are difficult to capture. Repository on animal diseases is imminent and critical. It is necessary to strengthen animal husbandry sectors for preventing future pandemics and for emergency preparedness with adoption of biosecurity measures.