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Sustainable animal production

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Humankind's relationship with animals is as old as civilization itself. People used animals as partners in hunting, as food and to increase the productivity of their agricultural and transport activities. They started by harvesting wildlife resources, through hunting animals in savannahs and forests as well as fishing in rivers, lakes and the open sea. Animals have thus become integrated in the sacred rituals and economic lives of human culture: and domestication has created new, evolving inter-dependencies. Domestic livestock plays a key role in the transition from rural to urbanized industrial societies, by meeting growing demands for high-quality food and contributing significantly in the move from subsistence to market economies. Moreover, livestock need feed resources, and interact dynamically with the environment which requires continuous management to ensure sustainability.

Wildlife and domestic animals have close genetic relationships, resulting in two other areas of concern - the conservation of biodiversity and the health security of animal populations. Exploring this complex relationship between humans, farmed animals, the ecosystem and wildlife is a key driving force in research aiming at meeting diverse pressures put on animals by society. Issues include: food safety, security of animal populations in relation to trade, animal productivity and economic goals, and the impact of animals on the environment. Getting the knowledge to reconcile all these objectives is the aim of S&T Co-operation between the European Union and its partners in sustainable and equitable development.

Cost-effective aquaculture

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Research shows that enhancing the growth of sessile plants and associated organisms on leaves, sticks and bamboo in traditional ponds systems in South Asia can substantially increase fish production. Importantly, the increase occurs without the need for more fertilizers or feeds. The technique has value for poor-resource farmers, ensuring cheap base material is available. This INCO research mobilised teams from Bangladesh, India, the Netherlands and the UK.

 

Controlling the 'Small Ruminants' Pest'

Caused by a virus of the rinderpest family, this deadly disease affects sheep and goats in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean and Near East and South Asia, wreaking havoc in smallholders' livelihoods. Several joint-research projects involving European, African and Asian partners led to the discovery and production of an efficient and affordable vaccine which is now being used in close co-ordination with development aid projects in the above regions.

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Confirming the international role of community research