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Balkan region increases its African Swine Fever vigilance


June 2022 – Bulgaria and Romania: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) today held a virtual meeting on African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Balkans. This meeting concludes a series of three webinars organized on animal health and food safety, which covers Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

African Swine Fever is a lethal viral transboundary non-zoonotic animal disease of domestic pigs and wild boars that has been present in the Balkans for several years now. According to the EU Animal Disease Information System (ADIS), in 2021, there were 6, 1676 and 33 domestic pigs ASF outbreaks in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia respectively. This disease remains a major threat for pig farmers, as there is no vaccine available yet.

It is against this backdrop that FAO and the EBRD brought together public and private sector stakeholders from the affected countries to help find a way forward regarding ASF control and prevention measures.

“The EBRD together with FAO has been successfully working together in mitigating risks related to animal diseases, in particular the African Swine Fever. The online events help us to disseminate interesting findings on ASF prevention,” said Vasyl Hovhera, Principal at EBRD’s Agribusiness advisory.

Presentations in today’s meeting covered ASF control in each of the countries and looking at good practices from countries outside the region. This included examples on how to improve pig farm biosecurity, auditing systems and various decision support tools. The panelists included policy-makers, state veterinarians, pig producers and representatives of sector associations.

 “The crux of the discussion revolved around how to increase the biosecurity of pig farms in the region as a control and prevention measure in the absence of an ASF vaccine,” said Mark Hovari, FAO Animal Health Expert. 

The first ASF online forum event took place in March 2022 followed by a separate event, dedicated to Serbia, on 31 May. The last event -dedicated to Bulgaria and Romania- was held on 2 June. In addition to the online events, in-person activities have been planned as part of the programme activities to better control the disease and provide technical support to both the public and private sector.

Photo credit © FAO/Victor Sokolowicz