– Land area used for pig production: Bio-security starts from selecting the site for construction of your pig farm. Who is your neighbour? Are you near a forest harbouring wild pigs? Are you near an abattoir, a pork joint or pork selling restaurant? A pig farm must be isolated from people and possibly set in a location free from other pig producers. If your neighbourhood is very risky, your biosecurity programme will be expensive.
–Management Procedures: This is more about your strategies to avoid infections from crossing from one pig unit to another, most especially in large farms. In such farms, it is necessary to provide a particular manager for particular pig categories because this helps ease control of movements from one house to the other.
For example, the farrowing unit manager, grower unit manager, dry sow unit manager, must go through a routine biosecurity check before crossing to other units. This means, also equipment etc. for a particular unit doesn’t cross to others. In small and medium productions, we must refrain from borrowing farm equipment, drugs, syringe and needles etc. Sick pigs must be isolated and newly introduced pigs quarantined for at-least two weeks before mixing with others.
–Transportation of pigs: Due to the absence of professional pig transporters in the country, trucks used for transporting breeding pigs are the same used for transporting slaughter pigs. Even during an outbreak, this does not change.
Also, if unsupervised, transporters park near high-risk places for example pork joints to have meals. It is your responsibility as a farmer to source and interview the transporter of your breeding pigs, make sure the truck is disinfected and the route of movement is followed with no unnecessary stopovers until final destination. When stopped at any police check point, please request the officers not to get in contact with pigs. Also try every effort possible to move pigs together with necessary documents to avoid delaying at check points.
– Buildings and structures: Every pig unit must have its own set procedures before access is allowed. Do not leave open walls, cover with a net to prevent entry of birds and other small animals. When visitors access the farm, do not allow them touch pig house walls or pigs. The farm must be enclosed into a fence with one or more managed entrances.
– Consumable supplies and equipment: It is your responsibility to ensure feeds are sourced from a supplier mindful of your farm health. The supplier must explain to you what they are doing to ensure selling uncontaminated feeds to pig producers. Feeding restaurant remains may save you money today but cost you your whole investment later. Pork from outside sources should not enter the farm. People attending to pigs should avoid visiting abattoirs and pork joints.
– Owners, workers, veterinarians, consultants & visitors: The effectiveness of every bio-security plan depends on the commitment of the owner. Owners must not dodge bio-security procedures; they must obey every detail to prove importance to farm workers. You should also talk about the importance of bio-security with your workers always. In large productions, it is important that workers are well trained farm residents. It is risky to have a farm worker who is also working at another farm. It is also risky to have a worker whose movements are unsupervised.
– You must be careful about veterinarians and consultants: They must go through a similar biosecurity process before accessing the pigs. Buy your own farm drugs and equipment, do not allow veterinarians to enter farm with their drugs and equipment. These must advise you on what drugs to avail before their next visit. Where possible, avoid visitors. Make every effort possible to prevent people from accessing your pig farm and if allowed, strict bio-security procedures must be followed.
Uniting for action
The second strategy requires different value chain actors to understand the importance of African swine fever to their businesses and come together for action. When organized into relevant groups, farmer groups, pig traders’ and input dealers’ groups, among others.
It is easy to initiate and contribute to a fund to be used during an outbreak to compensate affected members. This limit infected meat from reaching the market and therefore controlling transmission of the virus to new locations/farms.
Through the same groups, animal health trainings can be routinely carried out to prevent outbreaks. Also, it enables effective control of trade of infected pigs as well as fighting other risks faced by different value chain actors.
In 2016, the Government introduced the Uganda Insurance Agriculture Scheme (UAIS) as an insurance subsidy programme for both small and large scale farmers and farmers in high risk areas to ensure every farmer in Uganda can be protected from the effects of losses of their crops/livestock on their overall income that season.
The UAIS is managed by the Agriculture Insurance Consortium (AIC) which is housed under the Uganda Insurers Association (UIA).
The scheme covers;
-Accidents (lightning/internal and external injuries, windstorms, snake bites and flooding)
-Illness and diseases of terminal nature
-Epidemics except those arising from Rift Valley fever or foot-and-mouth, after declaration by the Government
-Emergency slaughter on advice of a qualified veterinary surgeon.
The cover can be extended to theft, transit risks and farrowing risks.
Community slaughter and feasts
In Uganda, mostly in rural areas, burying carcasses of pigs to prevent continued spread of disease may be a waste of time. Many Ugandans can hardly afford enough meat so will unbury this free meat and feast on it. Sometimes, even animals whose death is caused by dangerous zoonotic diseases are not spared if not burnt to ashes!
Therefore, where there is willingness by a farmer to prevent infected meat from reaching the market, what they do is to invite the community, slaughter, cook and eat all the meat. It is important that it is not good for a pig farmer to get involved in such feasts because they only increase the stay and spread of the disease.
It is important to note that selling a single infected pig can lead to African Swine Fever outbreaks in the whole country and thereafter death of a huge number of pigs. Therefore, for those concerned about fellow farmers please avoid selling infected pigs. Traders must stop buying and selling infected pig meat.
Also, African Swine Fever virus only affect pigs, therefore infected meat has no harmful effects on human beings or other animal species. The control of consumption of infected meat is aimed at preventing disease outbreaks in new locations.
Tip provided by Christopher Mulindwa, an investor in the piggery sector and a consultant on piggery