Even though much of the focus in South Africa has shifted from African swine fever to foot-and-mouth disease, leaders in the pork industry say swine fever is still a concern. They once again call on farmers to check their daily biosecurity routines.
According to the chief executive of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (Sappo), Johan Kotzé, Mzansi’s ASF outbreak status remains critical.
“If the basics of biosecurity are practically implemented with discipline, we can reduce the risk of virus infection drastically and win the fight against a fearless but unbiased virus,” he says.
Farmers should do a critical evaluation of whether they really serve the country’s well-being in the battle against the virus, even if they subscribe to quality assurance systems such as Sappo’s Pork 360.
“Although our management system comprises a set standard of rules, every farm must be viewed as unique in infrastructure, management system and business model. The on-farm practical implementation is… the most important tool in winning the battle against disease,” Kotze says.
In times of disruption, radical change and uncertainty, it is easy to lose perspective by letting fear and emotions dictate one’s mindset, he adds.
“A golden rule to overcome difficult times is to deal with issues sensibly and realistically, in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.”
‘Theory must be backed up with action’
While theory is necessary to set a standard and to create processes and procedures, the industry needs to remain practical, Kotzé says.
“A member certificate or a few boxes being checked by an official is not a guarantee that the principles of a management system will safeguard us from a virus entering our farms.
“If the theory is not put into practice, it might all be in vain. Our circle of influence, to implement systems on our farms, starts with us as farmers practically living these standards.”
Kotzé urges farmers to see biosecurity as a matter of principle at all times. “It needs to be the culture of our farms; the way we live when nobody is watching – just the way we are.”
*Sappo is recognised by government and other agricultural role players as the mouthpiece and representative organisation for pork producers in South Africa. Its quality assurance system, Pork 360, is a guarantee to the consumer and retail sector that the producer has a consistent production process that complies with minimum standards and ensures high-quality pork. Producers participate in the system by choice.
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