Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The African Swine Virus Rages Across China

                        The African Swine Virus Rages Across China

David Nealis on the farm in Erdos, China.

As we enter the 2019 Lunar New Year of the Pig, the African Swine Virus is raging across China and now spreading to other parts of Asia and Europe.

This incurable disease that typically takes years to eradicate has reached at least 24 Chinese provinces and regions since the first reported outbreak in August of 2018. It’s a common thought that the African Swine Virus was introduced to China from Russia. The US –China Trade War has China scrambling to find alternative sources of commodities to prove to the US that they do not need them to help feed their 1.3 billion population, this has some conspiracy theorist imaginations going wild.

On our yeoman farm in the Inner Mongolia City of Erdos, we feared the rapid spread of the African Swine Virus, as many of the large and small producers in the region started to contract the virus so we decided to send our hogs to market earlier than normal to avoid the chance of losing all of our stock to the virus. All that we kept were a few mature females that we use for breeding and so far they have been spared from contracting the virus.
Jane Yang on the farm in Erdos , Inner Mongolia China

What is the African Swine Virus?
The African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the causative agent of African swine fever (ASF). The virus causes a haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in pigs, but persistently infects its natural hosts, warthogs, bushpigs, and soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros, with no disease signs.

In attempts to reduce the spread of the virus the Chinese Central Government has banned feeding kitchen/restaurant waste to pigs which is a very popular practice in China, and restricted transportation of live pigs and products from infected areas. 

Hogs on the way to market in China.
So far the virus hasn’t mutated to be able to affect humans but it has affected the lives of many humans. Tens of thousands of Chinese farmers are expected to abandon pig farming as weak demand and higher regulation costs cut deep into their profits. It is estimated that will reduce production in China by 20 per cent this year. The weak demand for pork is also affecting global commodity producers with downward pressure on soybeans.This might not be considered a negative affect by the Chinese Central Government which has been pushing for larger factory farms were there can be more control.

David Nealis President of Ceres Ltd
China’s pork industry is US$1 trillion market, not only is China the world’s largest producer of pork and also a net importer of pork. In 2017 it is estimated that China slaughtered 700 million pigs. Yeoman farms producing fewer than 500 pigs for slaughter each year are estimated to account for about 40 per cent of China’s output annually.

During the Year of the Pig let’s hope that the Chinese and other affected regions of the world get the African Swine Virus under control and while they are at it let’s find an intelligent and fair solution to the US - China Trade War as well.

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