South Africa: Should the SA Government Incentivise Farmers to Control the Spread of African Swine Fever?

opinion

If there was ever a time when incentives could help reduce the spread of animal disease, it is probably now in South Africa.

Since April 2019 there have been 14 reported outbreaks of African swine fever in South Africa. All are in areas of the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Free State. These outbreaks were mainly among smallholder farmers. A few cases in wild boars have also been reported.

Local authorities responded by quarantining and controlling the movement of pigs in affected areas. But the industry remains concerned that farmers may give in to the temptation to rush the rest of the herd to the market when they realise that some of their pigs are dying because of African swine fever. This would present a risk of further spread of the disease (which spreads by contact). This leads us to the point of incentives for areas that have been affected by the disease.

While we understand that government finances are constrained, farmers should be incentivised to report the outbreaks so that the disease can be successfully controlled and avoid major devastation like what we now see in China and Vietnam. The incentives could take the form of government payments to...

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