EUROPE – At the recent National Convention on Animal Health, Food Safety, and Quality in Serbia, the urgency of a coordinated response to contain the threat of African Swine Fever (ASF) took center stage.

Drawing from the insights of an EBRD/FAO project spanning Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia, stakeholders emphasized the crucial role of regional cross-sectoral approaches in halting the spread of this highly contagious disease.

The EBRD/FAO project, implemented over the past three years, has been instrumental in bolstering efforts to combat ASF in Eastern Europe.

Shared at the convention, these lessons underscored the importance of coordinated action involving public and private sector stakeholders.

Nemanja Grgić, Principal Manager of Agribusiness Advisory at EBRD, highlighted the significance of investments and capacity building to mitigate the disease’s impact and enhance outbreak preparedness.

The project’s focus on engaging commercial operations has yielded valuable insights into the disease’s entry points, facilitating targeted interventions to prevent transmission.

Dmytro Prykhodko, Senior Economist at FAO, emphasized the need for a multifaceted approach, encompassing regional, national, and local levels. By collaborating with commercial farms and local communities, efforts have extended beyond the farm gates to address risks posed by wild boar populations, including training on effective carcass disposal methods.

“We visited three commercial farms to review current practices, provide technical support, and develop recommendations for other producers, whether small or large, to improve biosecurity and animal health,” he said.

“We also looked beyond the farm to local communities to better understand day-to-day risks such as threats of ASF transmission from wild boar populations. This led us to work with hunting ground managers to increase their awareness of the risks and build their capacity to mitigate them, for example by training them in effective methods of carcass disposal.”

While acknowledging the ongoing challenges posed by ASF, conference participants expressed a heightened awareness of the imperative for a unified and regional response.

Grgić emphasized the necessity of collaboration, underscored by an enabling policy environment and investments from both the public and private sectors. Such proactive measures, he noted, are essential not only for the project countries but also for neighboring regions facing similar risks.

“Stepping up biosecurity in the fight against ASF requires active collaboration, a coordinated approach, and an enabling policy environment. It also needs upfront public and private sector investments. These will pay dividends later across the project countries, the region, and neighboring regions who are next on the list of places at risk,” concludes Grgić

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