Law-breakers Add to African Swine Fever Challenges in Madagascar

MADAGASCAR - Almost three-quarters of farmers questioned said they have sold meat from pigs infected with African swine fever (ASF) despite the fact that the government has outlawed this practice.
calendar icon 14 April 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

Believing that ASF can affect humans, the farmers sell the meat although that is illegal in the country, according to a new study of farmers' behaviour.

The authors comment that incomplete information on known and suspect ASF in pigs cases increases the challenges of eradicating the disease.

Domestic pig production in Madagascar is inadequate to meet local demand, according to Tiana N. Randrianantoandro and co-authors.

Unfortunately, they explain, ASF is endemic in Madagascar and it poses a constant threat to pig farmers. ASF must be eradicated in order to guarantee the development of pig production, they say.

Among the main strategies for controlling ASF is stamping-out, which requires the farmers’ collaboration in reporting cases or suspected cases.

The objective of their study, published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, was to estimate the proportion of farmers who knowingly sell ASF-infected meat without reporting it.

Since selling ASF-infected meat is prohibited by the government, the researchers used the item count technique (ICT), an indirect questioning technique appropriate for measuring the proportion of people engaged in sensitive behaviour, for one sub-sample, while another sub-sample was asked directly whether they sell ASF-infected meat.

Based on the ICT, 73.2 per cent of farmers who have experienced ASF sell the ASF-infected meat. This estimate was not statistically different from that obtained by direct questioning.

In the 28 per cent of interviewed farmers who believe ASF can affect humans, the ICT yielded a higher estimate than did direct questioning, indicating that pig farmers who sell ASF-infected meat hide that fact because of their belief that infected meat might harm human consumers, not because of the law.

The ICT was thus a suitable technique to address the problem of sensitive behaviour.

In the case of ASF outbreaks, Randrianantoandro and co-authors conclude, the Malagasy government should enforce the law more strictly and provide compensation as incentive for reporting cases.


Randrianantoandro T.N., H. Kono and S. Kubota. 2015. Knowledge and behavior in an animal disease outbreak – Evidence from the item count technique in a case of African swine fever in Madagascar. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 118:483-487.

Further Reading

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