Poland’s wall to tackle ASF should have been built four years ago, say meat experts

By Diana Yordanova, in Brussels

- Last updated on GMT

Fence construction is expected to start at the end of 2018
Fence construction is expected to start at the end of 2018
The Polish Government’s decision to build a 1,200-kilometre-long fence along the country’s eastern border, as a tool to fight African Swine Fever (ASF) by blocking the migration of infected wild boars, has been condemned as too little, too late by Poland’s meat sector.

A draft resolution has already defined the technical data of the project and, if everything goes to plan, the two-metre-high fence should be completed by 2020. It will also be buried into the ground to stop wild boars tunnelling underneath from neighbouring Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The cost of building the fence has been estimated to exceed €56 million.

However, speaking to GlobalMeatNews​, director general of the Association of Polish Butchers and Cold Meat Producers [Stowarzyszenie Rzeźników i Wędliniarzy Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej] Tomasz Parzybut said that “from the moment when the first case of ASF occurred ​[in Poland] in 2014​”, his organisation had appealed to the country’s minister of agriculture and rural development to build a fence.

But the then “minister Marek Sawicki believed the construction of the fence would not stop the spread of the disease. How do we evaluate the initiative of building a fence now​?” Parzybut asked.

Fence construction is expected to start at the end of 2018, beginning at the Baltic Sea and ending at the Carpathian Mountains. Parzybut, however, forecast that construction of the fence would be difficult due to a swampy area along the border with Belarus.

When it comes to the expected effect, “the fence will certainly seal the border, but it will not stop the disease​”, he added. In the meantime, another European Union (EU) state, Denmark, is also planning to take similar measures against ASF. At the end of March 2018, its government was in support of a plan to build a wall on its border with Germany.

During a meeting of ministers of agriculture and veterinary specialists from EU countries and neighbouring ASF-infected countries on 26 March in Warsaw, the EU health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said that to be successful “transparency, collaboration and coordinated efforts from all parties – neighbouring countries, politicians, farmers, veterinarians, travellers, the general public and very importantly hunters​” were needed.

Indeed, instead of building a wall, the Polish butchers’ association chief insisted that biosecurity requirements and controls should be introduced to all farms throughout the country. Parzybut said livestock farmers should be informed of actions needed to protect their farms from the disease and if the necessary actions were not taken within six months, negligent farmers should be “forced to end their pork business​”.

Other countries, including Denmark, have undertaken measures​ to prevent the spreading of ASF by building a wild boar fence between the Scandinavian country and Germany.

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