Domesticated pigs in Parlamentu village, Lautem District (Image/Robert Baird)

DILI, 10 December 2019 (TATOLI) – Local authorities in Lautem District, on the eastern tip of Timor-Leste, say pig deaths from African Swine Fever continue to rise, with 365 cases reported in just one village since July.

The xefe suco (village chief) of Parliamentu, Angelo Calvão Silva, told TATOLI the ban on the movement of pigs since the October outbreak hasn’t stopped the virus spreading.

“To date we see [preventing] the movement of pigs has not been enough, as many have died and will continue to die,” Mr Silva said.

The figures were gathered from the five village chiefs in the area, and Village Chief Silva warns the numbers are likely to rise.

Chief of Parlamentu Village, Angelo Calvão Silva (Image/Robert Baird)

“Our herd will continue to die, [because] we don’t know when the illness is gone,” he said.

The disease has killed 16,000 pigs since spreading to Timor-Leste, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAP). But that represents less than 5 per cent of the country’s herd, which the 2015 census estimated to be 419,000.

Looking west to restock 

Last week, the Minustry of Agriculture brought in 150 pigs from Indonesia, in a bid to help farmers replenish their herds in the wake of the ASF outbreak.

General Veterinary Director at MAP, Domingos Gusmão, said the animals were sourced from  Kupang in West Timor, and have been cleared by biosecurity officials.

“We recommended the pigs [for] import… Many pigs died, and we have to substitute them so there will be an increase in pig production through the importing activities,” he added

In total, 22 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe have been affected since 2018, although Indonesia has so far been spared.

Last month, more than 20,000 pigs were reportedly infected in Sumatra, although the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has not confirmed the outbreak.

The director says the pigs is bought from the company in Loes River, Lda,. The winning contract, at a cost $33,000, was approved the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Joaquim José dos Reis Martins last week.

Mr Gusmão said the Ministry is considering applications for the animals from a number of affected districts, including Manufahi, Covalima, Baucau, Viqueque, Liquiça, and Maliana.

The animals will be housed in Atabae, west of Dili, while further checks are carried out and a decision is made on their new homes.

“We are [an ASF] affected country as well, so that us from exporting the pigs, thus we see a country free of ASF [from which] we could import from for preservation,” he explained.

MAP provides monthly updates to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on the spread and containment of the outbreak, he said.

Journalist: Florencio Miranda Ximenes

Editors: Maria Auxiliadora; Robert Baird

Translation: Nelia Borges

Read the original in Tetum here: Fahi Kontinua Mate Iha Suku Parlamentu

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