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Agriculture receives equipment to bolster biosecurity and address wild pig concerns

Tuesday 9 July 2024 | Written by Talaia Mika | Published in Local, National

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Agriculture receives equipment to bolster biosecurity and address wild pig concerns
Minister for Agriculture Rose Toki-Brown, left, with Food and Agriculture Organization subregional coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Xiangjun Yao. TALAIA MIKA/ 24070810

Ministry of Agriculture received equipment from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve biosecurity and address concerns over wild pigs and transboundary diseases.

The ongoing concerns over any possible transmission of the transboundary diseases into the country through the borders as well as wild pig concerns locally were highlighted through the presentation of new equipment from the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Ministry of Agriculture received various types of equipment including a scanner, laptop, pig traps with cameras, cameras, overall uniforms, PPE equipment, work boots, and more.

Xiangjun Yao, FAO subregional coordinator for the Pacific Islands, presented the equipment to the Minister for Agriculture Rose Toki-Brown on Monday.

“Amongst those items physically present here, there are five pig traps that will be used to capture wild pigs,” Yao said.

“And also, I am going to hand over the X-ray scanner that will be used to scan imported and carry on good to avoid any kinds of risks of transforming this African Swine Fever through some of the incoming items.”

Yao says it’s a very critical biosecurity matter, including diseases like African Swine Fever that has been spreading in some Pacific countries.

“That’s why we have this kind of equipment to support Cook Islands in combating these kinds of diseases and any possible transmission of the African Swine Fever and other animal diseases to the country,” she said.

“All our supplies of equipment as well as our provision of technical assistance are very much due to requests from the government ministries because they know the local demand and I would imagine that they hear those concerns from the farmers about what they need to address.”

Minister Toki-Brown acknowledged the ongoing support of FAO to the Cook Islands stressing that the equipment will highly assist the biosecurity team in boosting the security at borders as well as the wild pig traps and other equipment donated.

“We are gathered here to handover to our government and to the people of the Cook Islands and our Ministry of Agriculture all these various equipment to assist with our operations but also to our border operations to safeguard our agricultural sector,” she said.

“We are very grateful for your kind donation and also very importantly, your attendance to our annual conference which will be held on Wednesday, another big event for you to attend.

“And we are grateful that we have these equipment to support our staff to do better and to do their work efficiently.”

Brown also highlighted the equipment’s importance in addressing ongoing challenges like swine fever and wild pigs on the islands.

Yao stressed that she is in the Cook Islands to talk with different ministries to further strengthen their collaboration and working relationships.

This is not the first time FAO donated to the Cook Islands as they also worked together in some vegetable production facilities in the past.

“Food security for FAO refers to the local food production and those kinds of environment reproduction including biosecurity to ensure that the local farmers farming will not be affected by those transboundary animal diseases,” Yao added.

FAO is a sub-regional office located in Samoa serving 14 countries including Cook Islands.