ASF “awareness gap” in Eastern Europe prompts FAO action

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is seeking to close an “awareness gap” concerning the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in Eastern Europe by running alert programmes in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

“Since its entry into Georgia back in 2007, ASF has progressively spread throughout the region, despite all prevention and control efforts, first affecting the Caucasus countries, then the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and since last year, the Baltic States and Poland,” said FAO.

Pointing out that the continued spreading of ASF involves a “diverse range of actors in the market chain”, including pig farmers, butchers, veterinary services, wild boar hunters and even consumers, FAO warned that most of these people were “not versed in disease spread, prevention, recognition, response, or reporting”.

“The key for effective prevention and control of ASF is to raise the awareness of all stakeholders,” said FAO, adding that a comprehensive ASF outreach programme is now the “highest priority” for the region.

To tackle what they see as an awareness gap, a one-year, internationally funded project is being run which addresses training and implementation needs relating to the control and prevention of ASF in the four target countries of Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

“The overall objective is to develop a comprehensive and sustainable regional network of knowledge and expertise, for the control and prevention of ASF,” said FAO. “This knowledge will be translated into country-specific awareness materials and a train-the-trainer cascade, whearby training will be given to regional veterinarians, who will in turn train farmers and other stakeholders within the pig and pork value chains.”

The project kick-off meeting took place in Yerevan, Armenia, on February 3-5, 2015, attended by 19 representatives from the veterinary services and research institutions from the countries involved.

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