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 September 25 2007
Genetic improvement of Vietnam's native Co duck.

Genetic improvement of Vietnam's native Co duck.

HANOI, VIETNAM - Small-scale duck production makes substantial contributions to household food security in developing countries in Asia. It also helps diversify incomes and provides quality food, energy, and a renewable asset in many rural households. Ducks easily adapt to various adverse environments, and are well resistant to a variety of animal diseases. They can grow well with locally available feeds and less manpower is needed to raise them even under meagerly equipped facility, so that even women and aged people are able to easily manage the production. However, small-scale producers are constrained by poor access to appropriate technologies and information, as well as markets and support services, which could otherwise substantially improve productivity and income generation.

Recognizing the important contribution that duck production can make to poverty alleviation and rural development, FFTC in cooperation with the National Institute of Animal Husbandry (NIAH), Vietnam, organized the international seminar on Improved Duck Production for Small-Scale Farmers primarily with the goal of bringing together duck experts from all over Asia in order to share and exchange practical and technical information in support of small-scale duck producers, as well as to enhance technical cooperation in this area among countries in the region.

During the seminar held in Hanoi, Vietnam on 17-21 September 2007, technology and information to promote efficient production of ducks for Asian small-scale farmers, particularly in the areas of genetic improvement and improved cultural practices, were presented. The seminar also provided a better understanding of the usefulness of biotechnology in increasing egg production and fertility, and in improving viable embryos development and hatchability. The participants all agreed that if small-scale duck production is to remain sustainable, the use of better breeds and management of stock health and local feed resources, as well as the introduction of appropriate new technologies, must be enhanced.

There are different scales and levels of duck production systems in the Asian region. In some developing economies, duck farms remain under traditional system with low productivity and practically no breeding farm. However, interest toward intensification is increasing in recent years due to changing technical, social and economic environments. Modern technologies are required to support more intensive farming system in order to be attractive to farmers. Development of commercial strains, feeding strategy, and institutional innovations must be intensified, and regulations and standards must be implemented toward the sustainability and competitiveness of small-scale duck production.

In developing economies where small-scale production is prevalent, research and development and market and support services are critical to boost the economic importance of duck. Problems on quality breeders, high cost of feed inputs, threat of avian flu, and shrinking agricultural lands are the most immediate concerns needing attention from the government and the private sectors. Some development strategies to improve small-scale duck production include organizing farmers into cooperatives to facilitate efficient management and achieve economies of scale, technology diffusion, supply management, and imporved production and market.

The general trend will be towards organized and larger units and consolidation, especially in the area of duck meat and egg processing. Some issues and concerns toward this trend include intensive duck farm management monitoring, sanitation, surveillance, biosecurity and emergency response systems, and food safety and traceability, which should be addressed to cover the whole range of duck farming. Along with this expansion are changes in production systems such as choice of breeds, intensive cultural practices, and housing systems.

In view of the concern of some developing countries for research funding, particularly for molecular research, technical cooperation within the Asian region must be promoted. More advanced countries like Taiwan can offer opportunities for research implementation and research results sharing. There should also be a follow-up meeting of the seminar to set up a network for technical cooperation among countries in Asia, so that a regional cooperation mechanism can be established to harmonize efforts in the promotion of improved duck production for small-scale farmers.