Former Soviet countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are taking desperate measures to tackle African Swine Fever (ASF), which is causing devastation to pig herds in the region.

Ukraine has asked for emergency funding from international bodies, while Russia has announced a large-scale reduction of the population of pigs in the southern part of the country in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading.

ASF has cost the Russian economy roughly $830 million since it was first discovered in 2007, and Ukrainian authorities fear similar consequences. In a bid to minimize the impact of the disease, which has entered Ukraine for the first time, officials have now applied for financial assistance from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Union (EU).

Head of the State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service of Ukraine, Volodymyr Gorzheev, explained: “The Ukrainian authorities are negotiating with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection (SANCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to provide financial assistance for various activities to combat the spread of the virus.

“We are currently still in the negotiation stage with the EU. We have provided a number of proposals [about the exact amount] of assistance. We do not need professional help, we need help with equipment for laboratories.”

At the same time, Russian authorities have taken unprecedented measures to control ASF in the south. The government of the Krasnodar region, the most affected area, has decided to close private farms in the region and sell the stock to meat processing plants.

“To reduce the threat of the spread of ASF we have decided, by Oct. 15, 2012, to sell [to meat processing plants] all the pig stock from facilities with low level of biosecurity, as well as in small, private farms and backyards. This is about 200,000 head,” said the report of the Ministry of Agriculture in the region.

Experts point out that it remains to be seen whether this precaution will be effective, noting that during the last two months there were three outbreaks of ASF on farms with the highest level of biosecurity, which were given permission to export their products even when strict quarantine was imposed the region.

The information for this report was provided by GlobalMeatNews.com.