Inspecting a pig’s health in Busia, western Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Charlie Pye-Smith).
‘Occurrence of African swine fever (ASF) was reported in almost half of the countries that make up the African continent in 2012. This transboundary animal disease (TAD) can have a powerful negative impact on a nation’s economy and social structures. It causes major economic losses from its effects on pig production and economically hinders people who depend on pig farming and who risk, as a result of ASF, to lose their livelihoods. It also reduces poor communities’ access to high-quality and cheap animal proteins.
For these reasons, ASF is considered the most serious infectious disease in pigs in Africa.
‘In recent years, the international community, national authorities, the pig production sector and researchers are trying to solve the problem in a sustainable way in order to eliminate constraints on pig production and enhance rural development. The African Union’s Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have been collaborating since March 2013 to implement a regional strategy to control ASF in infected countries and to prevent its spread to non-infected countries.
‘The strategy is based on collaboration and partnerships among farmers, traders, veterinary and animal production services, researchers, governments, civil society and development partners. With the growing pig trade throughout Africa, the regional strategy will promote viable pig production and improve the livelihoods of all actors in the pig and pork value chains, especially poor people. . . .
‘Together, AU-IBAR, FAO and ILRI are currently articulating the action plan into short-, medium- and long-term streams of activities and identifying the stakeholders and institutions responsible for each activity. They are seeking to bring them together to collectively participate in finding solutions that address the main hindrances faced in pig production and marketing in order to create an enabling environment and ensure the sustainable development of the pig sector in Africa.’
What’s new about this project for Africa is that it combines social and economic research with biological surveillance of viral prevalence and diversity to understand better how the virus spreads. Household surveys of pig keepers and information from other people in the market chain (e.g. pig butchers and traders) is enabling the project team to learn about the impacts of the disease and, conversely, how pig keeping and trading practices impact ASF infection and transmission dynamics.
The project is furthering understanding of farmer capacity to adopt simple biosecurity measures – such as restricting access to pigs to all but essential workers, changing or disinfecting footwear on entry and exit to pig production facilities and reducing risks from feed sources – that could reduce the impacts of the disease, and is providing this essential information to smallholder pig farmers in eastern Uganda and western Kenya
Read the whole article at the FAO website: FAO joins with AU-IBAR and ILRI on regional strategy for the control of African swine fever in Africa, 26 Sep 2014.
Read more on ILRI’s website about the project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, is led by the BecA-ILRI Hub in collaboration with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) and is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT, formerly AusAID).
For further information, contact ILRI scientist Richard Bishop at r.bishop [at] cgiar.org