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Weir: Ministry monitoring outbreak of African Swine Fever in the Americas


Weir: Ministry monitoring outbreak of African Swine Fever in the Americas
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir. (Picture by Lennox Devonish/FILE)

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The Ministry of Agriculture is putting Barbadians on alert about an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Americas.

During a televised press conference earlier today, Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir said his ministry was closely monitoring the situation and tight measures were being implemented at the different ports of entry to maintain the island’s biosecurity.

Weir said this was the first outbreak in the Americas since the 1970s, adding that the recent outbreak occurred in the Dominican Republic and it was reported to the World Organisation For Animal Health (OIE) on July 29.

The minister said ASF could wipe out the entire pork industry and would be detrimental for backyard farmers. He said it is important for backyard farmers, who would not be held to the same standards as commercial farmers, to be aware of the risks and improve the level of their operations.

Senior veterinary officer Dr Mark Trotman appealed for backyard farmers to present themselves to the ministry so they could gain knowledge on how to improve their standards.

Trotman said the Dominican Republic was part of CARIFORUM’s trading network, to which Barbados is signatory, but there was no trade agreement currently for pork.

He told farmers the ministry would be helping them to implement safety measures at their farmsteads, adding that the main signs of ASF were a sudden high mortality rate, reddening of the skin or ears, bleeding, bloody diarrhoea and swelling of the limbs.

He assured that if there is an outbreak here the ministry had the capacity to detect it quickly and address it instantaneously.

Although officials could not state how many pork producers there are in Barbados, they said they were aware of the commercial farmers and about 35 000 carcasses were produced annually. (SB)