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Minister Smith announces donation of €250,000 to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in support of Avian 'Flu control in Vietnam

Mr Brendan Smith TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, with special responsibility for Food, today announced a voluntary donation of €250,000 to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This funding is part of Ireland's overall Official Development Assistance and will support FAO activities to control avian 'flu and provide appropriate storage of vaccines in Vietnam.

While it has been recognised by Minister Smith that continued vigilance and the implementation of a sound risk-based approach is the best mechanism we have for dealing with this threat here in Ireland, the situation is quite different in Vietnam. The relatively high incidence of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in Vietnam and other countries has determined that a different approach should be taken. Hence a programme of mass vaccination has already begun in order to control the spread of the disease in poultry in Vietnam. Ireland's donation will assist the FAO and the Vietnamese Government in achieving this end.

"I am delighted to announce this funding to FAO, particularly in view of the fact that it is targeted mostly at small commercial and backyard producers. Additionally, funding will be used to provide cold room storage facilities that can be used in future for storing other vaccines," said Minister Smith. He added that capacity constraints could cause difficulties in dealing with large campaigns such as this, and therefore this project would provide both short-term and long-term benefits.

The Government of Vietnam's Department on Animal Health is carrying out the project in conjunction with FAO.

21 July 2006

NOTE FOR EDITORS

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations was founded in 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the conditions of rural populations. Since its inception, FAO has worked to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security. FAO is one of the largest specialised agencies in the United Nations system and the lead agency for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development. The Department of Agriculture and Food pays an annual subscription to support the work of FAO, which amounted to nearly €1.15 million in 2006. It is also funding two Associate Professional Officers (APOs) to work with FAO.

Date Released: 21 July 2006