As part of its efforts to enhance the biosecurity system and embracing artificial intelligence, the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) developed a smart algorithm, the first of its kind in the Middle East, to eradicate Paste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) and boost animals' immune system. The algorithm works by connecting together PPR vaccination data and animal identification and registration system data, to fight the disease according to its impact on animals.
ADAFSA has succeeded in conducting an initial test on the algorithm during the vaccination campaign carried out in the last quarter of 2019. Compared with the previous campaign, the test produced impressive results, such as controlling PPR in animals worth of AED 8 million, increasing the number of registered and numbered animals by 72%, and raising veterinarians' productivity by 9%, due to the increased number of the targeted farms.
The algorithm helps define and select animal farms according to epidemiological factors and statistical variables. It targets farms in need to vaccination against PPR, transcending conventional methods for executing annual vaccination campaigns that target some farms based on the availability of logistical support.
Furthermore, the algorithm depends on five main factors, including predicting the total number of target animals in each farm; predicting numbers of newborns; measuring distance from each holding to disease's places during the last two years; calculating time dimension of the last visit vaccination campaign against PPR for each animal and holding; and setting out various estimates about priorities needed to visit a farm.
In this regard, H.E. Mubarak Ali Al Mansouri, Acting Executive Director of Development Sector, said that ADAFSA constantly seeks to use the best data analysis techniques and smart algorithms to develop its performance, support decision-making, and improve services provided to the public in Abu Dhabi.
"Abu Dhabi's agriculture and food sector has large volumes of data for about 24,000 farms, over 3.5 million of animal heads, and about 16,000 facilities. According to the latest estimates, ADAFSA carried out about 110,000 inspection visits targeting those facilities," Al Mansouri added.
He affirmed that exploiting artificial intelligence and the internet of things in getting updated data streams helps re-engineer ADAFSA's operational processes more efficiently.
"To enhance the biosecurity system and protect animal and human health, ADAFSA has embraced artificial intelligence by developing an algorithm predicting epidemic diseases affecting livestock, thus eradicating those diseases by intensifying vaccination campaigns or controlling them in a more efficient manner," Al Mansouri said.
According to His Excellency Rashid Balrassas Al Mansouri, Executive Director of the Livestock Sector, the algorithm helps eradicate PPR disease in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, thus declaring the country PPR-free. This comes in line with the UAE's plan and the global strategy to eliminate PPR by 2030.
"The smart algorithm has been widely commended by Director General of the OIE, who was briefed on its initial results at the 15th Conference of OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East hosted by Abu Dhabi in November. As the first of its kind in the Middle East, the OIE's director recommended promoting the algorithm in regional and international conferences," Al Mansouri noted.
He stressed the algorithm helps in planning well for vaccination campaigns, saving costs by determining the required doses accurately, measuring progress in programs dedicated for the eradication of PPR in certain region or country constantly, boosting animal immune system against PPR, and protecting animals from diseases.