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Oct 4, 2019

CARICOM Countries Take Precautions for African Swine Fever

Another matter that came out of today’s conclusion of the COTED meeting, was the region’s recommendation on how to approach African swine fever. It is a virus that spreads rapidly, is resistant to heat and chemical treatments and it can kill large volumes of domestic pigs. The virus has spread in parts of Asia and Europe, killing more than fifty percent of the pigs in China. Considering that the virus has a lifespan of more than twenty-five years, it poses a risk to small economies like the Caribbean. As a result, the recommendation is for the development of a national plan of action for prevention and early response to the African swine fever, as well as stakeholder engagement and awareness, and other measures to be taken. Here’s what Minister Hulse shared about that discussion.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“Coming out of the meeting also was a declaration on African swine fever, which is a disease we understand can devastate the pig industry, the pork industry, if it gets in the region. As we understand, it is not yet in the region and definitely not in our sub-region but we have to be very vigilant because it could affect the industry here in Belize. So, there will be specific precautions taken, bio-security measures here in Belize to prevent it from getting into Belize, should it reach the region.   In Belize, as you know, we have BAHA and BAHA is charged principally with this and making sure that we manage these risks, whether that is at the border points as best as we can. Our borders are porous so it is at times difficult but clearly at the official points of entry we can begin to manage this process there.   This is a little more complicated. I understand it lasts a longer time so there are more secure measures that are required. There is some significant studies already in the CARICOM mechanism which we will look at adaption to prevent that from Belize. We are very strict in terms of med fly and other quarantine points and we manage them rigidly, so we intend to do that. But it is important that the public hears so that if we have to spray them down at the airport or anywhere they know we have that do that it, they will understand we have to do that to protect our industries and there will be no exception.”


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