After the detection of the first appearance of African Swine Fever in Germany, the experience of the Bonn-realis cluster is in high demand. This refers to technical-organizational innovations of crisis prevention and crisis management. Those affected in the agricultural sector and those responsible in the agricultural administration both see an urgent need here. There is agreement upon the fact that scattered decision processes could be made more transparent and faster through digital systems.
EQAsce plays a special role as mediator between crisis management teams in food retail supply chains and the federal/state-ASP-taskforce, which is particularly appreciated. Because of the danger of a spreading of the ASP-infection from wild boar populations to domestic pig populations, EQAsce could mobilize experts within a few days who seek to drive forward the idea of an accompanying digital control center on a nationwide level. There is agreement, to use and put into practice a so called “engage-exchange model” that enables an exchange of data and information between crisis squads from economy and federal and state administration for a joint crisis management. An essential advantage of this joint action is the fact that all development partners involved and the official ASP-taskforce are located in the economic and scientific shaped region of Cologne-Bonn.
In the case of crisis, the current communication situation without an accompanying control center and an intervention group costs time and complicates a fast, coordinated action. During the EHEC-crisis and the European Swine Flu in the northwest of Germany some years ago, the cluster Bonn.realis got EU-funds via the Federal Research Ministry for the development of a concept for a control and intervention center that we now see is very much needed. The lack of human and financial resources as well as a weak will for crisis prevention in the past years led to a stop of further developing the concept and putting it on the latest state of technical solutions.
This reluctant attitude disappears now that there is the corona crisis and financial losses of pig farms due to the ASP-disease. In the past months, politics, economy and administration have realized that such a technical-organizational infrastructure should not only exist during the exceptional time of crises but should be an integrated component of crisis prevention in Germany. The idea is to activate this accompanying digital control center in the case of a crisis – independent from its kind – and keep it activated personally only until it is declared to be mastered. The different intervals between crises in the agri and food sector should be used then, to train enough experts for the tasks withing the cross-border crisis management and to prepare and execute crisis exercises.