Bali has seen a rapid increase in farmers taking out livestock insurance on their animals as concerns over foot and mouth disease grow. The government-sponsored Cattle-Buffalo Livestock Business Insurance (AUTSK) has seen a sharp increase in farmers taking out policies as the outbreak of the virus continues.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture 240 cows, belonging to 12 farmers have been added to the policy program. Kebid Agricultural Facilities and Infrastructure, Buleleng Agriculture Service, Made Siladharma, told local reporters that the increase is directly attributed to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
Foot and Mouth Disease, referred to in English as FMD, and in Indonesian as penyakit mulut dan kaki (PMK), is a highly transmissible virus affecting animals with cloven feet. Currently, foot and mouth disease has only been detected in cattle in Bali, though sheep, pigs, and goats are also among the animals at risk.
Farmers have been taking out insurance on their cattle despite the government being reportedly slow to release compensation for cattle that are culled for testing positive. Insurance for cattle pays out if a cow dies during calving, accidents, disease or if they are stolen.
Recently however the AUTSK has added foot and mouth disease cover to the policies as the government is set to be paying out should a cow need to be conditionally culled due to foot and mouth disease. Farmers are moving to insure their livestock as a precautionary measure as private veterinary care is costly.
Siladharma told local reporters that the insurance policies have also become much more affordable for farmers who are growing increasingly concerned about the impact the virus may have on their livelihoods.
Siladharma said that policies used to cost IDR 200,000 (USD 13) per cow per year, policies now cost just IDR 40,000 per cow per year (USD 2.70). Whatsmore, should an animal have to be culled as a result of foot and mouth disease the government will pay for the loss of the animal to the sum of IDR 10 million (USD 675).
Speaking to local reporters Siladharma said ‘This insurance makes it very easy for farmers. They just have to maintain [payment], if [cows] die, farmers will be compensated by the central government. The premium payment has even been subsidized, so it’s cheaper. The insurance claim doesn’t even take months, hurry up’.
While usually farming matters are of little concern to tourists or international visitors, the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali and across Indonesia is hitting international headlines. Although the virus does not pose any threat to human life, the disease can be transferred from place to place on people’s shoes and luggage.
This is because although the virus is largely an air-borne disease, the virus can survive on non-living tissue for up to six months in the right conditions. This has led to biosecurity measures being ramped up in airports across Australia since Bali is a popular destination for Australian holidaymakers.
Australia has introduced biosecurity detection dogs at Darwin Airport and a program of other measures at all airports receiving travelers from Indonesia. Measures include disinfection mats to sanitize travelers’ shoes as well as increased risk profiling of travelers. Measures have been introduced in New Zealand too.
The Australian Government recently announced an AUD 14 million relief package to fund increased biosecurity measures and to send resources and technical guidance to Indonesia to help curb the outbreak. It is estimated that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Australia would cost the economy. AUD 80 billion.
Tourists to Bali do not need to adjust their plans as a result of the outbreak and it is still safe to visit rural and agricultural areas in Bali. Travelers are reminded to sanitize their shoes, clothing, and luggage as best they can and to comply with any additional biosecurity measures at Bali Airport and their destination.
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