True to tradition the presidency of the World's Poultry Science Association (WPSA) changes every fours years. For this reason, current president Bob Pym from Australia will hand over command to Edir Nepomuceno Silva from Brazil during the upcoming world congress in Brazil. Silva has a clear goal in mind for his tenure as the new president: assisting poultry production in Africa to a higher level.
By Ad Bal
The World’s Poultry Science Association (WPSA) has a long history. It was founded exactly 100 years ago and has over the years made a significant contribution to the development of the global poultry industry. “In this respect, also the Brazilian branch of WPSA played a major role”, says Edir Nepomuceno Silva. “In the early 1970’s, Brazil became a member of WPSA and made a proposal to host the world congress. In the 1980’s a new national poultry science association was formed in Brazil called ‘Facta’.
From that moment, the newly formed Brazilian branch of WPSA and Facta merged into one new organisation. That explains why still nowadays the Facta name is commonly used. It has a historical reason. Yet, officially it is the Brazilian branch of WPSA. And indeed, Brazil managed to host the world congress in 1978. This granted major exposure and gave a boost to the Brazilian industry. Now, 34 years later, we are honoured to host the world congress again”, Silva says.
“Currently, the Brazilian branch of WPSA has about 250 members”, continues Silva. “Like everywhere, these are specialists from the industry as well as from research institutes. Research in Brazil is to a large extent supported by the government, which we much value. This forces us, however, to indicate priorities and spend our budget as effectively as possible. According to our constitution, WPSA Brazil has an executive committee and a technical committee. Every year in May we organise our annual Brazilian poultry conference mainly in Sao Paulo state. Also this has a historical reason since in the early days, the area around the city of Campinas was the major poultry production area in Brazil. But this has over the years moved to the Southern states of Brazil which is closer to the grain producing areas.”
International playing field
- Veterinarian, MSc and PhD in microbiology and immunology - Professor of Diseases of Poultry and Food Safety at the Universities of Sao Paulo (USP) and University of Campinas (Unicamp)
- Two years visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts, USA
- Founder and President of Facta (Brazilian Poultry Science Foundation) representing WPSA in Brazil
- Vice-president of WPSA
- Consultant to the poultry industry
- Founder and partner in two poultry vaccine laboratories
- Founder and CEO of a private poultry diagnostic laboratory
- Founder and partner of a probiotic manufacturing company
“The objective of our annual meeting has always been to put science and technology together, thus meeting the needs of the Brazilian poultry industry”, says Silva. “It is a domestic activity, usually attracting some 800 poultry specialists from all across Brazil, and some other Latin American countries. Traditionally in these events there are invited international speakers focusing on the forefront of science and technology as well. This is logical, since Brazil is acting on an international playing field.
Today, in these conferences, strong focus is put on welfare and environment, and on food safety. Three more main fields of interest are on feed and technology, health and biosecurity, and breeder and broiler management. But welfare and environment and food safety are by far the most important issues, since Brazil with its high export volumes is currently a very strong player on the global poultry market. We are, by the way, in the process of teaming up with the poultry producers association of Brazil to change our meeting into a biennial event, including a tradeshow. That will make it even more powerful and professional. But our priority at this moment is focusing on the upcoming World’s Poultry congress in Salvador.”
Affordable to everyone
Silva has a clear answer to what has been the greatest achievement of poultry research around the world in the past century.
“Extensive research has made poultry meat and eggs accessible and affordable to everyone, even to the very poorest”, he says. This is truly a major achievement which was based on four pillars: genetics, nutrition, management and disease control. The balance between these four has allowed the industry to gradually develop into a professional business, feeding the world population with healthy and highly nutritive poultry products.
Research is an ongoing process to further increase the efficiency of poultry farming and the quality and accessibility of these products. Since the previous congress in Brisbane, Australia in 2008, we have seen an increased focus on environmental issues globally and also in Brazil. I have said this earlier. This will continue to happen in the years ahead. No question about that.”
Focus on Africa
Does WPSA have a specific goal in mind for the upcoming four years? “Yes we do”, says Silva. “The executive committee of WPSA has decided to specifically focus on Africa, with the emphasis on sub-Saharan countries. These countries have good natural resources and should be able to further develop their poultry industries and improve and increase their domestic production. Brazil and Africa have much in common, certainly from a climatic point of view. Moreover there are seven African countries who share the same Portuguese language.
The priority will be on improving family poultry production. For this purpose WPSA will work closely together with the local branches in the various countries, but also with national institutes. Another very important body to work together with, is the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Poultry is simply the easiest way to provide food to the people”, Silva repeats. “We will therefore strongly support initiatives to increase productivity in these countries.”
Communication is key
WPSA is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012 and the question arises whether the organisation is still future fit. “Indeed it needed some modernisation”, says Silva. “WPSA has therefore adopted a new constitution which makes us more flexible. We are living in a new world, which is truly different from decades ago. There are modern means of communication and we should make use of these as much as possible. Therefore communication is simply the keyword. This will also enable us to approve new members more easily, since still not every country in the world is represented in WPSA. But we will keep working on that.
The upcoming World Poultry Congress in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil will be an excellent place again for meeting many fellow poultry specialists and exchanging ideas. But also we will look back at what has been achieved. A historical presentation about 100 years WPSA will be given by past WPSA president Dr Peter Hunton from Canada, and there are many more initiatives to express the value and the importance of WPSA. All in all, many good reasons to come to Brazil and attend the congress and tradeshow that runs concurrently. I am ready for it and also to serve as the new WPSA president for the upcoming four years.”