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Belize Pig Council makes donation to Agricultural authorities for surveillance, monitoring activities in regards to African Swine fever

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Posted: Friday, August 6, 2021. 12:51 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: As the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) launched its campaign to sensitize Belize about the African Swine Fever and the efforts MAFSE is making to prevent it from entering the country, the Belize Pig Council made a monetary donation to the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) to help with surveillance and monitoring activities.

“We take it very seriously and with the help of the ministry and BAHA and everyone, we feel very secure with their way of responding and quick responses,” said Ernie Thiessen, Vice President of the Belize Pig Council as he presented a check for $2,000 to the Acting Managing Director of BAHA Francisco Gutierrez.

The African Swine Fever is at present devastating the pig industry in the Dominican Republic, said Agriculture Minister Jose Abelardo Mai who, stressed that MAFSE will do everything possible to prevent it from entering the country.

“It would be very devastating if this should come to the country as a lot of people are depending on their jobs. The industry itself is a very vibrant industry in the country and where we have been feeling the support for more production in the country, working to create more jobs and so on,” Thiessen said.

“The industry provides 3,500 jobs on farms and slaughtering facilities, jobs that are desperately needed by rural families especially during this difficult post COVID recovery era,” Mai said.

The Minister noted that the pig industry is made up of 40,000 to 45,000 animals and is worth between $30 to $30.4 million presently. So, Belize stands to lose immensely should the disease enter the country.

Hence, the donation by the Belize Pig Council said Thiessen.

“Thinking of a disease like this that that could stop the whole industry, we take it very seriously. So, from the farmer level we have some funding that we would like to hand over to BAHA to use for farmer awareness and also preventative measures that need to be taken,” Thiessen added.

“We cannot afford to have this dreadful disease in our country and we at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise along with our local and international partners will do everything to keep it out,” Mai said.

The African Swine Fever can be brought in by importation of live pigs or pork products, said the Director of Animal Health Dr Miguel DePaz. He added that because of that BAHA has to do risk assessment at entry points.

BAHA Director Gutierrez said this is not a disease we can live with, but that containment is manageable. He said BAHA has protocols in place to contain the entry of different diseases and that in cases like this BAHA steps up their containment procedures at all ports of entry. Moreover, Gutierrez said BAHA does not allow importation of pigs from countries that have cases of African Swine Fever.

He said BAHA is at a heightened state of readiness to protect Belize from the entry of African Swine Fever and stressed that there needs to be collaboration between BAHA and other related agencies.

The International Regional Agricultural Health Organization (OIRSA) director Fermin Blanco said OIRSA declared a regional emergency once the disease affected the Dominican Republic.

Blanco noted that to contain the disease from spreading to other countries of the region, it is urgent to assist the Dominican Republic in its fight against the disease. And OIRSA is doing just that he said.

Minister Mai stressed that MAFSE’s awareness campaign will advise people what not to do to prevent the disease from entering Belize.

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