San Jose, 2 September 2021 (IICA). Limber Cruz López, Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic, asked the countries of the Americas to join forces in fighting and preventing the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in the region and to charge the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to support and execute initiatives to eradicate foci and contain the spread of the virus that is threatening the Hemisphere’s swine industry and the economic stability of small- and medium-scale farmers.
Cruz made his plea during the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2021, an event organized by IICA, and explained the actions his country has taken following the detection and notification of ASF in the country on 29 July.
He highlighted the exchange of information with neighboring Haiti, whose Director of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Nadège Dorival Montissol, also described their containment plans.
“Our government, from the agriculture cabinet, which is presided over by the President of the Republic, Luis Abinader, has assumed the fight against this disease with a deep sense of responsibility and we are implementing the ASF continency and eradication plan with a comprehensive, decentralized focus and the widespread participation of the private sector”, commented Cruz.
“We have opened a series of bilateral conversations with authorities from different countries, with special emphasis on exchanging information with our sister country Haiti. Additionally, we contacted international organizations to ask for a technical support mission by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), FAO, IICA, and the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA), which stayed in the country for 15 days”, added the Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic.
Limber Cruz stated that the presence of ASF holds health significance for all of the countries, which is why he decided to present the issue at the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas. In the framework of the Conference, the Inter-American Board of Agriculture, the highest governing body of IICA, is also holding its regular meeting.
“I am grateful for the support of our sister countries and international organizations and ask that a resolution be approved granting IICA the authority to continue supporting the actions necessary to face the emergency and prevent ASF in the countries of the Americas”, he stated.
Nadège Dorival commented that the Haitian Government passed a ban on importing live pigs and by-products from the Dominican Republic and created an interministerial committee charged with disease control and prevention in the territory through the Health Protection Unit and with the support of the IICA Delegation in the country, which supported the lab analysis.
“The Ministry of Agriculture wants to anticipate and get out ahead of the different scenarios that stem from the nature of the lab results by prioritizing three actions: a widespread information and awareness campaign to be carried out across the country about the probable reintroduction of ASF into Haitian pigs; continue with detection operations across national territory; and establish health surveillance with all the State and non-state actors that are involved in the agriculture sector”, explained the Haitian official.
“It is essential that Haiti and the Dominican Republic work together closely to fight the disease. I have no doubt that I can count on the usual technical assistance of IICA in the fight against African swine fever in Haiti”, stated Dorival.
The Director of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Agriculture of Haiti also referred to the serious situation facing the country after the earthquake on 14 August of last year.
“We need urgent restructuring and restorations to ensure the short- and medium-term productivity of small-scale family farms. The implementation of hydro-agricultural infrastructure is a priority in terms of the Ministry’s next actions, which is why I call for solidarity with the Haitian people and the rural community, in general, to which IICA has always made its presence known”, stated the official.
She concluded her plea with a list of other urgent interventions, including rehabilitating the rural habitat in affected areas, strengthening productive capacities, rebuilding seed inventories, rehabilitating irrigation systems, restoring cultivated soils, rehabilitating rural roads, and restoring the environment.
Institutional Communication Division.