Economic experts are demanding a professional investigation to study the possibility of deliberate introduction of the African Swine Virus in Georgia as well as the government’s late response to the disease.
“Whether the government has already ‘prevented a major spread’ of the fever is also under question,” claims economic expert, Gia Khukhashvili adding that at this point, it’s hard to talk of a subdued virus simply because most of the animals died or were culled already. “Maybe such conclusions are based on the motto – there are no pigs, therefore there is no African Swine Fever,” Khukhashvili commented to The Messenger.
“Our timely and focused actions on these hot points, as well as a large scale combat of the virus throughout Georgia have yielded results – pig deaths have decreased as the disease has come under our control,” Nukri Gugushvili, Head of special headquarters created at the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with ASF in Georgia said in a reaction.
Late government actions
Economic experts Gia Khukashvili and Davit Ebralidze share claims concerning the “late government reaction” to ASF. Ebralidze claims officials didn’t start fighting the virus until it had spread all across the country.
“Delayed detection of the virus has resulted in a long danger period where the disease has been unrecognized and the virus could have moved to neighbouring countries,” Jan Slingenbergh, a senior animal health officer of FAO, said. Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation should be on high alert.”
Khukhashvili also raises the possibility that the disease may have been deliberately introduced as a “biological weapon” and used to destroy local pig farmers. He suggests a possible motive might be to have less competition in the Georgian pork industry. Neighbouring countries have not detected the disease yet. The ministry rejects such claims though they admit they still have not identified the source of the virus though they suspect Poti port.
He also believes the issue of compensation as recommended by the FAO must also be addressed, “I think it goes without saying, that these farmers who lost their livelihoods, should be given adequate compensation. This will indicate the government’s true attitude towards the agricultural sector,” Khukhashvili says.
“At this point there has been no discussion about compensations,” Gugushvili admitted.