This week’s Joint International Conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine and the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine featured a presentation on value chain actors’ practices associated with the spread of African swine fever disease in smallholder pig systems in Uganda by Michel Dione, Emily Ouma, Felix Opio, Peter Lule, Brian Kawuma and Danilo Pezo (ILRI).
A study was undertaken to assess the perception of smallholder pig value chain actors on the risk of exposure of their pigs to African swine fever, as well as practices associated with the spread of the disease in the pig value chain. Data was collected through 17 focus group discussions and two key informant interview sessions. Participarory Rural Appraisal tools such as listing, group consencus, ranking, proportional pilling and pairwise matrix were used to collect data from 145 value chain actors including pig producers, traders, butchers, consumers, health and feeds input suppliers and support services; and 36 key informants including, district veterinary officers, area veterinarians, commercial and production officers, sub-county police officers, leaders from pig farmer cooperatives and community youths, and representatives of NGOs and other services working in the pig sector.
Results from this study revealed that the transportation, slaughter and collection/bulking nodes were perceived as being the highest risk nodes in the spread of the virus due to the practices of traders, brokers and butchers, the main actors operating there. All value chain actors are aware of the disease and its consequences to the value chain, but agreed that biosecurity measures were generally poorly implemented at all nodes of the value chain. As for the causes, they pointed to several factors, such as inadequate knowledge of actors of pig husbandry practices and mechanisms for the spread of the disease, poor enforcement of regulations on disease control, and low capacities to implement biosecurity measures, among others.
The majority of recommendations to control and prevent ASF, as suggested by the actors themselves, targeted producers, mostly with actions related to farm hygiene and pig movement during outbreaks seasons. Although traders, butchers and veterinary practitioners accepted that they play an important role in the spread of the virus, they did not perceive themselves as key actors in the control of the disease; instead, they believed that it was farmers who should adopt biosecurity measures on their farms because they keep the pigs.
The recommendations by actors to control ASF included: the establishment of collective centres for live pigs, capacity building of value chain actors on disease control, the issuance and enforcement of by-laws on live pig movements and establishment of operational outbreak reporting mechanism at district level. This study suggests that interventions designed to control ASF through biosecurity measures should focus their efforts on at post-farm nodes mainly the trading node.