International campaign to prevent spread of African swine fever in Ukraine

By Anton Usov

Preventing African swine fever pandemic in Ukraine

Japan, FAO and EBRD join forces to counter ASF in Ukraine
 
The government of Japan, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the EBRD have joined forces to launch a new campaign titled “African swine fever: Risk Awareness Raising and Risk Mitigation in Ukraine”.
 
The initiative, financially supported by the government of Japan and FAO, will be implemented by the EBRD in the Kiev and Poltava regions.
 
The project’s goal is to raise awareness among Ukrainian farmers of African swine fever (ASF), which is endemic in Africa, has spread across the Caucasus and Eastern Europe and increasingly threatens the pig production sector.
 
This highly contagious and often fatal disease of pigs and wild boars of all ages threatens to wipe out a significant portion of the pig population in Ukraine. After the first outbreak of ASF in Georgia in 2007 it has hit countries such as Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Caucasus and the Baltics. Russia has been severely affected by this epidemic with damages to date estimated at around € 1 billion and hundreds of thousands of animals put down. 
 

Spread of ASF into Ukraine (source: FAO)
 
As a result of the military conflict as well as economic difficulties, sanitary and veterinary control has become problematic in the east of Ukraine. ASF can now penetrate Ukrainian territory from infected livestock across the border.
 
Although, according to veterinary surveillance system standards, every single case of swine mortality has to be investigated to make sure it is not ASF-related, it has been increasingly difficult to guarantee this in eastern Ukraine.
 
African swine fever does not affect human beings but the virus stays alive even in processed and cooked pork for months and may present a formidable threat to pigs in the most unexpected circumstances.
 
It is, therefore, a major risk factor for Ukraine, a country where 56 per cent of pig farms have low levels of biological protection from external influence factors (lack of fencing, no timely dung clearance, contact with wild boars etc.).
 
“Ukraine’s agricultural capacity is said to be rich enough to feed half the world’s population,” said Shigeki Semi, Japan’s ambassador to Ukraine. “African swine fever is seriously threatening to spread in the country, which jeopardises pork production.”
 
The goal of this international project is to launch an information campaign for Ukrainian farmers, to create an emergency action plan and establish a necessary legal base for further actions.
 
It will also review relevant ASF documentation and develop recommendations on ASF emergency compensation funds. It will help enhance coordination between private sector players through the Association of Pig Producers of Ukraine, the Ministry of Agricultural Policy of Ukraine and the EBRD.
 
Traditionally, pig production and meat processing have been very important for Ukraine and it is one of the industries which has been dynamically developing in recent years. The EBRD has supported a number of projects with major pig breeders and processors such as Globino, Danosha and Nyva.
 
Once fully implemented, these projects will become the national benchmarks for environmental standards and for the highest levels of animal welfare and biological safety. 
 
“Leveraging the EBRD’s links with the private sector clients in the pork industry with FAO’s technical expertise can help small and medium-sized producers prepare better for African swine fever while the state veterinary service can test its response plans,“ said Dmitry Prikhodko, an FAO economist.
 
With no effective existing remedies for the ASF, all these steps will be vital for the industry to survive.