Impact of African Swine fever epidemics in smallholder pig production units in Rombo district of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Livestock Research for Rural Development
Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, PO Box 9152, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; District Livestock Office, PO Box 287, Mkuu Rombo, Tanzania
Animal diseases have multiple direct and indirect effects on human livelihood, health and welfare. Animal disease outbreaks also pose significant threats to the profitability of livestock production throughout the world, both from the point of economic impacts of the disease itself and the measures taken to mitigate the risk of disease introduction and control measures applied in the event of an outbreak. A study to evaluate the impact of an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in smallholder pig units in Rombo district of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania was conducted during the period of October 2013. The study involved 1085 smallholder farmers who owned pigs (n=5322) at different ages and stages of maturity during the period of March to September 2013. Information on the number of pigs owned pre- and post the ASF outbreak was collected through face-to-face interviews, direct farm observations and secondary data were retrieved from various district livestock office reports. This survey revealed that the pig density in Rombo district was 17/km2 and average herd size to be 5 (range, 1- 57), higher than the national average of 3 (range 2-48). The overall revenue accrued from sales of live pigs and pork between 2005-2012 amounted to Tsh 65 million to 102 million and 257 million to 566 million per annum, respectively. Mortality losses specifically arising from the ASF outbreak were 84% (range 46-97) and on average the number of pigs lost per household was 4 (range 1-50). Translation of such mortality figures into financial terms produces a loss of Tsh 160.632 million, indicating that ASF is a deadly and devastating disease that can disrupt the pig industry and the entire local economy. This study established that small-scale pig production is an important source of livelihood in many households and contributes to the value chain in rural areas of Rombo district. Given the transboundary nature of the disease (fast spreading and respecting no border), the study recommends that, in any future intervention, effort should be directed at the prevention of infection at source; early detection of the disease when it occurs; timely reporting and rapid response by involving a wide range of stakeholders at district, regional, national and international levels. At farm level, good husbandry and biosecurity practices such as confinement of pigs though construction of adequate housing, avoiding contaminated feed and water, appropriate disposal of carcasses, prohibition of slaughter, movement ban, establishment of check points and decontamination procedures using known and proven quality disinfection should be given high priority, as there is currently no vaccine available.