- Written on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:01
From 10–12 November 2015, key stakeholders in the pig industry in Africa will convene in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to validate a regional strategy for the control of African swine fever (ASF) in Africa and develop a continental program for its implementation.
The strategy was developed by a task force set up in May 2014 and comprising the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA)-ILRI Hub, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) andAfrican Union Interafrican Bureau For Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).
For two years, a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by the BecA-ILRI Hub has worked to develop a clearer understanding of the pig systems and constraints to pig farming in East Africa a with a special focus on ASF. The pig industry in Africa which has grown in economic significancewith the current pig population totalling 34.2 million head and official figures putting pork production at 1.2 million tonnes a year is threatened by ASF, a devastating disease of pigs that is present in more than 20 countries in Africa. African swine fever is highly contagious and causes up to 100 percent mortality in pig herds. Although ASF does not cause infection in people, it impacts on the livelihoods of farmers, and others who trade pigs and pork, through loss of income and food. The Australian funded research focused on pig production systems, ASF causes and transmission patterns, and control measures for the disease.
Drawing from studies on production systems, breed characteristics, health constraints including zoonotics, and disease epidemiology the project has successfully modelled disease transmission dynamics. These studies are supported by biosciences research capacity at the BecA-ILRI Hub that include deep sequencing, genotyping and bioinformatics, in vivo challenge containment facilities and lab based platforms that supports immunology. Based on this work, guidelines for the control of the spread of ASF, developed in partnership with key actors in the departments of veterinary services in the project target countries is informing the regional strategy which will be validated in Ouagadougou.
The strategy is based on three founding principles:
- It is knowledge-based, using the best available epidemiological and socio-economic knowledge and experiences and on optimal preparedness, to reduce prevalence and prevent further spread of ASF;
- It is area-specific, addressing country and sector-specific epidemiological scenarios and technical options for prevention and control; developing regional and national capacities to monitor the disease situation and implement and maintain prevention and control options; and providing sustainable, technically sound and socially equitable support to control ASF;
- It is holistic, promoting gradual transformation of the less bio-secure, small-scale, scavenging production system common in Africa into a more bio-secure, small scale, semi-intensive production system. The strategy also promotes biosecurity in existing semi-intensive and intensive production systems.
As the strategic research partner the development of the regional action plan, the 'African swine fever: diagnostics, surveillance, epidemiology and control' project team represented by ILRI scientist Edward Okoth who leads the project, will make two presentations on ASF control initiatives. The presentation on ‘ASF Control Research and epidemiology in East Africa’ will highlight research on pig value chains, ASF and how research outputs have contributed to ASF control and pig sector development. The presentation on ‘Managing of ASF risk in local pig value chains through increased prevention, detection and response capability’ will focus on a proposed ASF control approach developed in partnership with Australia’s national science organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Partners in the BecA-ILRI Hub ASF project include CSIRO, Australia; Makerere University, Uganda; Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Uganda; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Department of Veterinary Services), Kenya; and Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal (CISA–INIA): Europian Union and FAO reference laboratory for ASF, Spain.
Read related story on African swine fever research at the BecA-ILRI Hub: Understanding the molecular variation and evolution of African swine fever virus in Uganda
Learn more about the project: African swine fever: diagnostics, surveillance, epidemiology and control
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