China’s small pig farm­ers pose huge chal­lenge to African swine fever bat­tle

Global Times - - Biz Insight -

Even af­ter 14 out­breaks of African swine fever across China in just over a month, pig farmer Wang Wu does not be­lieve there is a real threat to his liveli­hood.

“I heard about the African swine fever thing. But then peo­ple said it was just a ru­mor – that it was fake news,” said Wang, who raises about 60 pigs in a vil­lage near Harbin, cap­i­tal of North­east China’s Hei­longjiang Province.

In any case, the dis­ease was only present in the south, added Wang. In fact, the first out­break was re­ported in Shenyang, cap­i­tal of North­east China’s Liaon­ing Province. And Harbin is only 500 kilo­me­ters from Rus­sia, where African swine fever (ASF) has been spread­ing for years.

The farmer’s lack of aware­ness of the virus high­lights the scale of the chal­lenge China faces in con­trol­ling the highly con­ta­gious dis­ease, which has spread rapidly among the world’s largest hog herd since it was first de­tected in early Au­gust.

There is no vac­cine for ASF and mor­tal­ity rates can be as high as 100 per­cent. The virus is also hardy, sur­viv­ing for months in pork, feed or swill. It is not harm­ful to hu­mans.

In an ef­fort to check the spread of the virus, author­i­ties have banned the trans­port of live hogs from and through af­fected ar­eas, send­ing prices in some re­gions soar­ing.

But while in­dus­tri­al­ized pig pro­duc­ers in China have locked down their farms, can­cel­ing leave for staff who live on­site and re­duc­ing feed de­liv­er­ies and out­side vis­i­tors who risk spread­ing the virus to their pigs, many small pig farm­ers in­ter­viewed in the past week have done noth­ing to keep the dis­ease at bay.

That is likely a ma­jor rea­son for the num­ber of out­breaks on farms of a sim­i­lar size to Wang’s, say ex­perts.

“You have to know what the risks are,” said an an­i­mal health ex­pert at one of China’s biggest pig pro­duc­ers.

“If a small farmer isn’t aware, he can’t man­age those risks.”

Farm­ers pro­duc­ing fewer than 500 pigs a year ac­counted for 42 per­cent of China’s pro­duc­tion in 2016, ac­cord­ing to a re­search re­port from Dutch fi­nan­cial group Rabobank.

In East China’s An­hui Province, which has re­ported the most cases to date, there are still few large farms com­pared with other re­gions, said Pan Chen­jun, se­nior an­a­lyst at the bank.

China said last month it had launched a ma­jor ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign on how to pre­vent the spread of the dis­ease.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.