Remco Schrijver: «If there is transparency, there will be efficiency»
This time we communicate with international expert, who came to Ukraine upon the request of Association of Pig producers of Ukraine with support of Project USAID Agroinvest, to answer the questions, actual for the branch, to share the world experience and to show the ways out of main problems. So we took the opportunity to ask Mr. Schrijver, what of he was surprised in Ukrainian pig breeding.
- Remco, traditional question for our magazine is how do you connect your life with animal breeding?
- This connection is mediate. First of all I’m doctor of veterinary medicine and virologist, I specialized the questions of diseases control. I’d chosen this specialization, because from the childhood I was interested how the animal, weighted thousands of kilos can be killed by organism that we even could not see. Now I study more the triangle of interchange: human, animal and wild nature. At the present conditions this theme becomes more and more important, as from this depend not only the producing efficiency, but also the human welfare and health.
- You worked in many countries, is Ukraine the difficult case?
- No, because it is easy to find the common language with Ukrainians. The most difficult case was in Saudi Arabia, where was almost impossible to understand what was happen. So, you also have lots of non-transparent procedures, regulating the pig breeders’ work, but people are open for the dialogue and help to understand how the system works. Without this, it is difficult to advise the solution and move in direction of simplification.
- Remco, one of your main theses is that business and state have to be partners. How to share the spheres of influences and duties?
- Everything is easy: the farmer knows better how to do pigbreeding and what is needed for business development. Officials, for their parts know the public opinion and regulation on legislative level. The task is to unite knowledge of both sides in dialogue. The responsibility can also be determined by agreement, except the control of epizootic situation in the country. This is direct prerogative of state, but certainly with due consideration given to the opinion of producers. As to prescribe rules that pig breeders cannot accomplish is no point, the system won’t work.
- One more integral part of field work is laboratories. In Ukraine powers of private and state ones are differ. Is there in Europe the same practice?
- Yes, but there are some differences. In Europe state laboratories are involved in programs of governmental illnesses control (it concerns for example African and classical swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease, etc.) or serve as arbitral authority. In Ukraine they do all analysis and their verdict is determinant. At our place, this is done only by private laboratories, they do any analysis that producer orders.
- What’s the role on industry associations in Europe?
- The main task is to work for producer’s favor. Ukraine has its own particularity: you need to build up a dialogue with public authorities. For example in Netherlands association accentuates more on economics: how the household can stay commercially viable. To my mind, so far as science in Ukraine is almost not involved in field development, it is important to provide technical support. There is also the informative one, when, for example, the producer wants to start pork import to EU, but hereby he doesn’t know demands and procedures, association should be qualified to materialize his wish.
- In the eyes of Ukrainian producers the biggest danger for biosecurity of their households are not people or pigs but livestock carriers. Do you agree?
- Yes, transport is one of the principal dangers. Although, for example in Europe transportation system of pigs is well-run: carriers are licensed, scrutinous disinfection between each batch. This is the freestanding business: there is a producer, a processor, and between them is a carrier. It is strange, that in Ukraine this aspect hasn’t enough attention, nevertheless on its account all sector is at stake.
- It is interesting to know your opinion about limitation of antibiotic use. Who should control it: state or representatives of field?
- In Ukraine the question of decreasing antibiotic usage is not on time. In Europe it becomes urgent when more and more multi-drug resistant bacteria were shown in sick people. It appeared that one of reasons is antibiotic overuse in animal breeding. Officials assume responsibility and decide to cut it in half. Nowadays in Europe every case of antibiotic usage is fixed, this item is strictly controlled. On the other hand producers also understand that therein some advantages: lower cost of production and safer production, without medication remains.
- By the way, it is strange to see farms in Europe, they are without two-meter fences and security at the entry, if desired, it is possible to come and glance through windows. Are there less fears concerning spread of diseases?
- We just have different risks. For example in Europe the wild fauna is small (few wild boars). The main danger is rodents, so there are programs of their control. In Ukraine it is also possible to make rules less stringent, if only succeed better control of wildlife population around households.
- Getting acquainted with our pigbreeding a bit closer, your expert conclusion is to simplify a lot of procedures. What to start with?
- First of all, it is needed the rules, regulating the field become more transparent and equally interpret at each point of Ukraine. It is wrong that in every region and even district pig breeders cooperate with state veterinary hospitals and inspectors as they have agreed. If there is transparency, there will be efficiency.
- Should the science be involved into the cooperation «business — state»? Who should fund laboratory researches?
- Are Ukrainian methods of leptospirosis control justified?
- Why Ukraine is unique because of the epizootic situation?
- Where, according to the expert, native pig producers are losing money?
- How realistic is to establish cooperation between industrial and private swine in Ukrainian conditions?
You can find answers for these and other questions in the full version of the interview in the magazine «Profitable Pig Production», № 5 (23) 2014.