In the wake of the recent outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), the importance of industry standards was illuminated again. In the context of the South African macro-agricultural environment, it is clear that we are entering a trading landscape that will require us to do things we have never done before. As decay erodes critical agricultural services, and self-centred, disorderly farming practices and the impact of tough economic conditions play into the business environment, radical collective responsibility and accountability are becoming even more imperative.
As pig farmers, we are well-positioned. The foresight that pig farmers had in establishing Pork 360 as a voluntary assurance scheme should be lauded. From an industry standards perspective, it has greatly enhanced our ability to raise production practices across twelve critical disciplines that there is shared consensus on. Simultaneously, it has reinforced our capability to standardise biosecurity and risk-management practices on farms and at abattoirs. This is further enhanced by the fact that more than 75% of the national pig herd is Pork 360-certified.
Importantly, the combination of endemic ASF outbreaks and the current economic conditions and changing human behaviours increase the probability of ASF outbreaks. No farmer will be exempt from the heightened risk. Consequently, the risk of compliance on a farm and industry level should not be underestimated – as the recent knock-on fact into the value chain illustrated. It is critical that we collectively uphold the integrity of the Pork 360 scheme and promote the standard as a critical pillar of our risk-mitigating capability.
Equally, the complexity that arises from government’s response to quarantine, and the speed at which state officials are empowered to act and communicate, highlights the importance of continuous engagement. Holding space in discussions forms the basis on which the materiality of perceived risk is established and what qualifies as proportionate risk responses will be critical. SAPPO is continuously facilitating such discussions.
Moreover, to amplify the impact of Pork 360, the scale and rate at which technology and digital communication mediums are harnessed to optimise implementation highlights the importance of the World of Pork. As a system that has developed into a mature business intelligence system, the next phase is to accelerate the adoption of the animal movement application on farms and at abattoirs. This will complement our ability to manage biosecurity and traceability throughout the value chain.
Our business environment will increasingly demand radical responsibility across the value chain. As a pork industry, we will have to collectively take ownership of our behaviour and facilitate accountability through the standard we hold each other to. This will determine our success in managing future risks.