The Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) is boosting its animal health and response capacity towards African Swine Fever (ASF) through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Wednesday September 02, 2020.
The MoU signed with the Australia and New Zealand funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus (PHAMA Plus) Program aims to strengthen Solomon Islands’ preparedness against any possible incursion of ASF into the country.
ASF is a highly transmittable viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs. It is not present in the Solomon Islands but has recently been found in Papua New Guinea, and poses a combined social, economic and cultural threat to the Solomon Islands given the proximity and close relations.
The MoU will allow technical input and support for MAL’s biosecurity and animal health divisions to better deliver selected biosecurity related services needed in the preparedness work and to protect the country’s borders from ASF.
Permanent Secretary of MAL Ms Ethel Tebengi Frances said the MoU complements the ministry’s animal health preparedness and awareness efforts on the viral disease.
“This collaboration will support staff at MAL to better deliver services in the protection of the Solomon’s Islands borders from emerging threats such as ASF,” Ms Frances said.
“It’s a great boost to our physical and human resources to be better equipped and builds the country’s capacity to respond to ASF and other biosecurity threats.”
The Solomon Islands government through MAL had placed a ban on all imports of pork products in April, except for approved exporters from Australia, as a precautionary measure against ASF.
PHAMA Plus Senior National Facilitator Peter Ramohia said the Program was pleased to support MAL’s technical and operational needs and raising awareness on ASF.
“Through the support of Australia and New Zealand, PHAMA Plus is committed to assisting the Solomon Islands and the region’s preparedness for ASF,” Mr Ramohia said.
“We are working with MAL to step up the awareness of ASF to pig owners in the different provinces, private sector bodies and the general public through the production and distribution of the awareness materials/posters.”
PHAMA Plus continues to support the Government of PNG to respond to the detection of ASF and is also supporting the Pacific Community (SPC) to strengthen animal health capacity in the region. This includes having technical specialists available, awareness raising and distribution of diagnostic kits.
A panel has also been formed to provide animal health expertise as needed including on operational procedures, diagnostics, policies and legislation.