The livestock authority on Thursday sounded alarm that ships coming into Guyana to service the emerging oil industry could bring the African Swine Fever Epidemic and is moving to prevent this from happening.
“We know and we’ve been talking a lot about oil and what oil would be doing for us or should be doing for us.
“What is important is for the relevant ministries and departments to have a grip of what is coming off of those ships and aircraft that are involved in those trades,” Dr. Dwight Walrond, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) said at a press conference.
The African Swine Fever was first discovered in Kenya in 1921 and was eventually eradicated.
However, over the last century, it has been found in several parts of the world including China.
The GLDA official said there are many cases where supply boats are travelling to Guyana from some of the affected countries.
“Currently we are faced with a situation where boats are coming directly and heading directly to some of the platforms and then they’re coming to port Georgetown subsequently so we’re basically doing post mortem,” Dr. Walrond said.
He pointed out that this cannot be allowed to continue.
He declared: “Guyana is a sovereign nation and we cannot and will not allow any country or anyone to ship livestock or livestock product to any part of Guyana directly from another country to the (oil) platforms.
“You are in Guyana’s territory, as such an import permit would be required.”
Speaking at the GLDA’s office at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, Dr Walrond stated that every person or company importing animal or animal-based products will soon be required to be in possession of an import permit.
Import permits under the Animal Health Act of 2011 provides for the issuance of permits for the purpose of preventing the introduction, establishment or spread of a prescribed disease of listed pathogen in Guyana through import of animals, animal products or commodities.
Dr Walrond said that most of the countries which have been previously affected by the African
Swine Fever are located in Europe and Asia but there has been increased travel between Guyana and Europe and Suriname and Europe.
Guyana and Suriname also have an active ferry service at the border while the GLDA has also recently imported pigs from the Dutch-speaking country.
“Globalization is putting a lot of pressure on all countries and Guyana is no exception,” he said adding that Guyana is also becoming an important hub and this needs to be taken into consideration.
The World Organisation for Animal Health has deemed the African Swine Fever as a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses.
There is no treatment for the African Swine Fever and while it does not affect humans, it can lead to severe consequences for the Agriculture industry.
Its importation must be avoided since the disease can survive up to 140 days in pork products and years in frozen carcass while most disinfectants are ineffective.
Guyana has over 143 pig farmers who rear approximately 500,000 pigs to supply the local market.
Dr. Walrond said the country does not import any meat for consumption but rather it imports animals for breeding purposes.