Livestock Disease And African Food Security Livestock Disease and African Food Security A serious problem in Africa today is the emergence of rampant, deadly strains of disease that are affecting livestock and ravaging populations of pigs and cattle in many African nations, putting food security at risk in many populations of various nations. With already major food scarcity issues among many emerging African nations, disease will only further pressure an already dire situation for food security in Africa. Livestock play important roles in farming systems, which provide primarily food and income, which is necessary for food security. Nearly 12 percent of the world populations rely solely on livestock for its livelihood. (4) The latest outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the West African island nation of Cape Verde threatens the country’s entire pig population, according to a 1996 FAO report.
The disease has been endemically present in at least part of Cape Verde archipelago since 1985 – with peaks of morbidity/mortality twice a year, in spring and winter. (1) ASF is caused by a particularly resistant virus and is a potentially devastating disease. Very few pigs survive infection and those that do are contagious. ASF is endemically present in wild pigs in southern and eastern Africa in a cycle including infected domestic pigs, soft ticks and wild pigs. (1) In various ecosystems of Central and Western Africa there are huge outbreaks of this disease among domestic pigs and the disease occurs elsewhere in Africa.
In all areas, infection is most common as a result of contact with infected, recovered or carrier pigs and ingestion of contaminated or infected garbage, urine and feces. Various strains have occurred in different regions due to the increasing use of non-indigenous pigs, which are particularly vulnerable to this. Animals are being shipped by road and air and are not being quarantined properly if at all. This threatens any country that relies on livestock for food security. ASF is an extremely resistant virus and can spread quickly among populations that are kept in poor sanitary conditions.
Many experts agree that diseases such as ASF will continue to spread throughout African pig farms if proper sanitary conditions are not met and proper quarantine’s aren’t administered to try and curb the spread of this disease. Since there is no vaccine available, destroying infected animals is the primary method for eliminating the disease. In a different outbreak in Cote d’Ivore, almost 22,000 pigs were killed by ASF and another 100,000 were slaughtered in an attempt to eradicate the disease. (2) Yet another recent outbreak of ASF has surfaced in West African country of Benin on the Nigerian border. Authorities reported almost 3000 pigs dead and the FAO has sent a team called EMPRES (Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases) to investigate just as they did in both Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivore.
(2) The team was put together in an effort to control plant and animals diseases that can stress a countries vital food security issues. A different disease called Classic Swine fever, which isn’t as deadly a strain is what the Benin officials say it is, but the EMPRES team fears this could be the deadly ASF version. An acute problem that comes without warning, ASF can completely destroy a countries pork industry because once the news gets out, no country will trade or buy any livestock with that country. This can have serious implications on meat eating cultures. In Cote d’Ivore, all pig sales were stopped in 1996 and continued again in 1997 with a total loss estimated to be around US $18million. The FAO report says that around 60 percent of Benin’s populations relies solely on agriculture and stocks of 600 000 pigs play a vital role in income generation and national food security.
(3) There are various methods used to farm pigs in both Benin and Cote d’Ivore. Commercial farms are the highest in output and are often hit hardest by the disease due to close quarters and easy transmission from one infected pig to another. Others raise pigs in backyards where the animals are exposed to garbage and unhealthy conditions. Both of these methods of farming pigs are at the highest risk for infection. Those that raise pigs and let them roam around villages are less likely to get infected. The problem of food security in most Western countries isn’t on the brink of disaster considering the grain excess and food stocks we take for granted. Often times countries in Africa are at the brink of famine and even the slightest change in food production can put many lives at risk.
The loss of half of all pigs in a particular meat eating culture can greatly affect the food security of the people in that region. (4) When farms are hit hard from disease, often animals that would have been used for breeding get destroyed and the entire breeding project must often times be restarted. Many pig farms are poorly financed and are put into financial ruin due to ASF epedemics. The rural poor people are at the highest risk of failing food security and major outbreaks of ASF can cause a short-term, unexpected loss in food security for these people. Dr. George Nassara from Benin’s Government Stock Breeding Department told Reuters that he believes almost 100 percent of all infected pigs die of the disease. He says that clandestine trade and improper disposal of carcasses has led to failed efforts to control the disease.
Officials are concerned that without early detection and control, ASF will spread beyond the Southern Provinces where the disease has only been found so far. The chances, say some officials, of the disease spreading to neighbors such as Nigeria and Togo are extremely high. This has implications for all countries that rely on livestock for their sustainability. ASF isn’t the only disease threatening food security in Africa. Other emerging diseases such as the rinderpest epidemic has threatened cattle populations in Kenya and Tanzania, says an FAO report.
The disease in 1997 was threatening to engulf Serengeti National Park and was contained by a massive vaccination program and early detection system. (3) Teams from Kenya and the Organization for African Unity Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (OAU/IBAR) were supported by a joint FAO/United Nations Development Programme project for Emergency Control of Rinderpest to find a way to prevent this disease from spreading elsewhere. Rinderpest is a highly contagious disease that affects clove-hoofed animals such as goats and buffalo. The FAO has started the GREP (Global Rinderpest Eradication Program) in an effort to eradicate the disease. Vaccination before outbreaks has been the main goal of the team and 1.3 to 2 million cattle were protected through the vaccination program. (3) Livestock for many cultures is there source of sustainable agriculture.
Livestock creates manure for fertilizer and dung can also be used for fuel. Other uses of livestock include weed control, draught power (moving water), waste disposal, extra income, to reduce food security risk, and the most important for food. (4) Without livestock, or even a risk of livestock loss due to disease, can greatly affect a countries food security and livelihood. Bibliography REFERENCE (1) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Major Outbreak of Swine Fever threatens food security in Cape Verde 1998. Rome, Italy.
http://www.fao.org/NEWS/1998/980404-e.htm (2) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAO responds to outbreak of swine fever in Benin 1998. Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/NEWS/1998/980404-e.htm (3) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Intensive surveillance and vaccination campaign checks rinderpest epidemic in East Africa 1997. Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/news/1997/970707-e.htm (4) Pig Disease Information Centre.
Pig Health 2000. http://www.pighealth.com/ Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Background information: EMPRES, FAO. Livestock Disease Scenarios of Mobile versus Sedentary Pastoral Systems. Date? Rome, Italy. http://www.undp.org/seed/unso/pub-htm/pastoral-eng -roeder.htm Geography.