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FAO and the Czech Republic supporting South-South and triangular cooperation in the Balkans to control African swine fever in wild boars


Photo credits Torsten Mörner

31/05/2019 - 

A pig disease originating from Africa hit the news in 2007 when it made its appearance in Europe after being detected in Georgia. Since then, African swine fever has progressively spread throughout Eastern Europe, entering the European Union in 2014. Despite large efforts and investments, in the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment, no territory has been able to control it effectively and prevent its spread. Recently, the disease has been spotted at the doorsteps of the Balkan region in Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

Wherever it has emerged, African swine fever has caused the death of thousands of animals and spurred the implementation of trade restrictions affecting livelihoods and causing serious economic losses.

Pig meat has nutritional value as an affordable source of protein, and is an important source of income for smallholder families in this region. Both diets and incomes are at stake due to this deadly virus. As wild boars equally susceptible to the disease, they contribute to its persistence and spread. In fact, boars probably constitute the biggest challenge for the control of African swine fever in Europe.

The Balkans aim to respond to African swine fever in wild boars through South-South and triangular cooperation

For three days, Belgrade hosted a regional expert meeting organized by FAO with financial and technical support from the Czech Republic, to gather animal health specialists and wild boar experts from the Balkans . With a focus on how to control African swine fever in wild boars, the specialists exchanged experiences and lessons learned, and shared practical solutions on how to prevent and control the disease in the Balkan region in the framework of South-South and triangular cooperation.

Countries with advanced experience in the management of the disease, such as Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, were also invited to share their experiences. This South-South and triangular cooperation initiative was very positive for the participants as it represented a first step to enhance collaboration and coordination in the Balkan region to improve the management of the disease in wild boar populations.

The meeting was followed by a workshop to share recommendations with Serbia on its national control strategy for early detection, prevention and control of African swine fever in wild boars. In the coming months, similar workshops will follow in other parts of the Balkans, including in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

New FAO-Czech Republic South-South and triangular cooperation project providing a platform for mutual learning opportunities  

The experts’ meeting was organized as part of a new South-South and triangular cooperation project funded by the Czech Republic. The project aims at providing capacity development opportunities by organizing technical workshops and sharing Czech Republic’s technical expertise, experience, and knowledge in the areas of agriculture and food security. Later this year, the project will support the organization of two additional regional expert meetings with thematic focuses on the development of aquaculture and biodiversity, respectively.

 

* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).