Ministry identifies 589 farms with cow disease

Waimaro dairy farmer in Tailevu Baljindar Singh with his left over cattle yesterday. Most of his cattle were affected with TB and slaughtered. Picture: RAMA

THE Ministry of Agriculture has identified 589 cattle farms in the country to be infected with bovine tuberculosis (TB), with 1239 cases recorded by the ministry between January and August this year.

This was revealed by Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu, who said the cases were identified through the ministry’s testing program.

“For the last four years, the incidence of TB has been falling until June 2018. In July and August, 2018, there has been an increase mainly due to tests carried out on non-compliant farms,” he said.

Bovine tuberculosis, he said, had been in Fiji for about 50 years and cattle farmers in Korovou, Tailevu, were no exception. He said the ministry had been testing for TB in dairy and beef cattle in Fiji.

He said his ministry was working closely with key stakeholders to manage the disease.

Mr Seruiratu said the ministry would increase its testing capacity from next month and with increased funding, they should be able to cover the whole country.

“It is not an outbreak since the disease has been in Fiji for some time,” he said.

“The sudden increase in the number of TB infected animals has been due to the resumption of testing on previously non-compliant farms that refused to let our Testing team on their farms.”

Mr Seruiratu said at the beginning of this year, the ministry increased its efforts to convince farmers for tests.

“Those non-compliant farmers who did not want to have their animals tested for last three years have now agreed to come on board which has resulted in our higher detection rate.”

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