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African swine fever: new cases in Ghana

16 July 2018

Reports of a new African swine fever outbreak have emerged from Ghana. Efua Okai speaks to government officials about the latest biosecurity measures being implemented in Ghana

The pig industry in Ghana, following the African trend, has registered very significant growth in the last decade. A major contributor to this growth is the increasing number of urban dwellers with higher disposable incomes. However, one of the major challenges facing the industry is African swine fever, which was first detected on the continent in 2012, and has often caused mortalities of up to 100% of the herd. The disease posed enough of a threat to motivate the FAO to mobilise experts for the development of the 'Regional strategy for the control of African swine fever' in 2017.

This week an outbreak has been reported in the Central Region, in the south-eastern part of Ghana. Most of the affected farms are located in and around the coastal, historical city of Cape Coast. Most of the pig farms in that region are small scale, but pig numbers are increasing, and some farms are producing sausages, which are in great demand.

Following the reports of the outbreak, the Central Regional Directorate of the Veterinary Services Department has banned the movement, slaughtering and sale of pigs in the Central Region. The Regional Director, Dr Felicity Toninga, has appealed to the public to avoid buying pork, and to report any suspicious issues to the Directorate or the police. She also urges pig farmers to cooperate with the Directorate to ensure swift destruction of animals, in the interest of the farmers and the industry. She was unable to confirm the number of pigs that have been destroyed to date.

In an interview, the National Director of the Directorate, Dr Kingsley Aryee, said that there have been no other registered outbreaks in other regions. He said that effective biosecurity is vital to preventing ASF. Whilst it is not known to affect humans, it can seriously damage an industry that is playing a major role in the economy.

Members of the Pig Farmers Association confirmed that there have not been any outbreaks outside the Central Region.

In July 2017, outbreaks of ASF were confirmed in the Ashanti and Upper East Regions, which led to the destruction of over 15,000 pigs. Farmers in the region complained that although they were compensated for pigs destroyed in previous outbreaks, they received no compensation for the 2017 outbreaks. Dr Aryee believes that the lack of compensation of farmers makes controlling the disease outbreaks difficult. Farmers are reluctant to report signs or incidences of ASF to the Directorate, knowing that they will lose pigs and not receive any compensation. There have been reports in the past, he said of farmers secretly burying and even dumping pigs in the sea.

 

As reported by Efua Okai

Efua Konyim Okai is a Ghana-based economics graduate, with an MBA in Finance, who has been working in livestock feed distribution for four years.



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