BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus have jointly launched the National African Swine Fever Action Plan 2022 for the Solomon Islands to respond to the viral disease if it is detected in the country.
The National African Swine Fever Action Plan 2022 (ASF NAP) is based on three strategic documentation guidelines – African Fever Surveillance Strategy, (ASFSS); the Bio-security guideline for the rearing of Pigs in Solomon Islands (BRP), and the African swine fever Response Strategy (ASFRS).
The action plan is funded by Australia and New Zealand under the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus (PHAMA Plus), which aims to strengthen the Solomon Islands’ preparedness against any possible incursion of African Swine Fever (ASF) into the country.
Speaking at the official launch program on 14, October, New Zealand High commissioner to the Solomon Islands His Excellency Jonathan Schwass said it’s going to see the Solomon Islands taking strong decisive measures to protect the country against African swine fever given the potential of their illness to seriously affect the wider economy and also the communities in the country.
His Excellency Jonathan said the handing over and launch of the documents is the result of the fruitful consultation amongst stakeholders back in 2020 PHAMA plus did economic modeling that shows the economic damage that could result should effort and ASF get into the country.
He said that it was also in that year (2020) that PHAMA plus had signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of the Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) and was supported by Biosecurity Solomon Islands in the fight against ASF entering the Solomon Islands.
“The risk posed to the Solomon Islands by ASF is been high, especially since the disease is so close to this country. Today we are marking the launch, especially the manuals that provided the Pacific Islands on ASF management,” he said.
He said more recently PHAMA Plus had worked with MAL and Biosecurity Solomon Islands to develop a national effort in the Swine Fever Action Plan which provides comprehensive ways to prevent and the treating and responding to and recover from any possible outbreak by ASF.
“The PHAMA plus has now produced and distributed supporting materials such as sign boards, posters, and videos to make the work happen and carried out.
“ It’s worth noting that PHAMA Plus is working on the ASF issues here in SI and partnership with the Pacific community to straitening animal health in the region and ready to work with the government of PNG to manage the ASF,’’ His Excellency Jonathan said.
The stakeholders attending the launch and handing over the program are the MAL Livestock Department, Biosecurity SI, Solomon Islands Pig Farmers’ Association Reps, Australian High Commissioner, and New Zealand high commissioner together with PHAMA Plus members.
On a similar note, the PHAMA Plus, Country Manager, Peter Ramohia said Solomon Islands can be able to deal with the ASF should it enters the country.
“We are so happy that we can be able to support our Ministry (MAL) in terms of preparation for the ASF and able to support them in terms of what response they can do should ASF enters our country,” Ramohia said.
He said that it is a starting point to support the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock in the future.
“PHAMA Plus Program is looking forward to supporting the Ministry in whatever we can in the future and we hope that with the handover we should be looking at what we can do in terms of addressing the issue we have.
“We are fortunate that we don’t yet have ASF in the country but we should be doing our part to ensure that we are prepared in the case that we have ASF in the country.
“Let’s be assured that the PHAMA plus program with the support of New Zealand and the Australian Government will continue to do our best in support of the ministry not only in the ASF but as well as in other areas required,’’ said PHAMA Plus Country Manager.
According to World Organisation for Animal Health, African Swine Fever (ASF) is a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs and is responsible for serious production and economic losses.
“This transboundary animal disease (TAD) can be spread by live or dead pigs, domestic or wild, and pork products.
“Furthermore, transmission can also occur via contaminated feed and fomites (nonliving objects) such as shoes, clothes, vehicles, knives, equipment, etc., due to the high environmental resistance of ASF virus.”