BELGRADE/SARAJEVO, (Reuters) – An outbreak of the African swine fever has forced pig breeders in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia to cull thousands of pigs since June and is putting pressure on governments to compensate farmers for their losses.
More than 13,000 pigs have been culled in one month in Bosnia and about 3,000 in Croatia, where pig breeders fear the final figure may be much higher if government measures also requiring the cull of healthy animals in affected farms are to be obeyed.
On July 19, the European Commission said Croatia, a member of the bloc, shall ensure that pigs from the areas affected with the African swine flu are not authorised for movement to other EU member states and to third countries.
Serbia has culled about 18,000 pigs so far this year, the agriculture ministry said on Friday. It reported the first case in 2019. The disease has so far affected 1,068 farms in 32 out of 174 municipalities.
“The (ministry’s) Veterinary Department … conducts constant monitoring of the population of domestic pigs and wild boars and undertakes intensive measures to prevent the spreading of this infectious disease,” the ministry said. African swine fever is harmless to humans but it is highly contagious and deadly in domestic pigs and wild boars.
It has spread from Africa to Europe and Asia and has already killed hundreds of millions of pigs, affecting global meat markets. On July 10, China banned all imports of pigs and wild boars from Bosnia and Croatia.
The officials from veterinary agencies of the three countries met in Bosnia on Thursday to discuss the problem and agreed to jointly ask for financial aid from the European Commission and the World Heath Organisation to help farmers.
The Croatian government has agreed a 7.5 million euro-worth financial package to compensate the losses to the pig breeders.