Ukrainian livestock industry sweats as deadly virus nears country

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Ukraine's meat industry is gripped in fear as the disease travels further east
Ukraine's meat industry is gripped in fear as the disease travels further east

Related tags: Food and agriculture organization, Agriculture, Ukraine, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry

Ukraine could lose the right to export meat if the viral nodular dermatitis disease penetrates the country, the Ukrainian Union of Agricultural Enterprises has warned.

At the moment the virus is actively spreading across neighbouring Balkan countries and making its way east at an average speed of 70-100 km per day, so could be at Ukraine’s borders within three to four weeks.

According to the data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this disease could result in the loss of 70-100% of cattle and, significantly, reduce the productivity of livestock that survive. Given the experience of fighting against African swine fever (ASF), it can be concluded that Ukraine will not be able to stop the spread of nodular dermatitis, so the effects will be disastrous for the Ukrainian livestock industry and may even cause a food crisis in the country,​” stated the report.

The Ukrainian Union of Agricultural Enterprises along with the Association of Dairy Producers have appealed to the country’s President Petro Poroshenko and several other politicians, asking them to apply urgent measures to protect the livestock industry.

Intenationl help called for

According to Volodimir Lapa, head of the State Food and Consumer Service of Ukraine, since 5 August Ukraine has already banned imports of beef from countries where nodular dermatitis has been detected. Lapa said the list included the Balkans, Russia and several other countries.

According to official statistics, Ukraine’s cattle population numbered about 4.2m head, as at the end of July, a decrease of 3.3% compared to the same date in 2015. Market participants have commented that Ukraine should apply urgently for international help, as it would not be able to defend itself against this disease on its own.

Vaccines needed

Ukraine should appeal for the support from the FAO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as the country would not be able to finance a battle against nodular dermatitis single-handedly,​” said Igor Prisyazhnuyk, chief veterinary officer of the Association of Dairy Producers, adding that the spread of the virus had already caused a deficit in vaccines.

Right now, there are not enough vaccines in the world. For example, Romania is in the queue [for vaccines], as not all the animals in that country are vaccinated. There is a risk that the disease could spread through Romania into Ukraine. If, by the end of September, Romania contains the spread of the disease and there is no outbreak in Ukraine, we will manage to last through the winter as the virus will respond to the drop in temperature. But in any case, we would need to be prepared early next year,​” he said.

According to Anna Lavrenyuk, head of the Association of Dairy Producers, if the government could acquire the vaccines, all participants in the market would be able to complete a vaccination program within a week. But so far there is no information as to whether these vaccines could be purchased soon.

A spokesperson from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food stated that this issue was under negotiation, including with some foreign organisations, but he declined any further comment on the situation.

Related topics: Meat

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