Will Overhauling China's Pork Industry Halt African Swine Fever?

China may divide its hog industry into five zones to stop the spread of African swine fever (ASF) and guarantee pork supplies in the world’s top pork-producing country. Reuters reported Wednesday that China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs drew up a draft plan to ease the trade of pigs and pork within five regions, after earlier measures distorted prices and the market. 

The plan, which was outlined in a document reviewed by Reuters, was sent to provincial governments and municipalities for their feedback last week. There has been no confirmation on its approval.

ASF is spreading rapidly despite attempts to ban the movement of pigs out of infected provinces. It has been reported in three new provinces in the last week, including large farms with high biosecurity.

China’s vice premier Hu Chunhua said on Tuesday that the situation remained “very serious” and called for intensifying controls, Xinhua reported.

The draft plan aims to “further strengthen African swine fever prevention and control measures, establish a long-term effective animal disease prevention system, protect the healthy development of the hog sector and stabilize market supplies.” 

Each zone contains one of China’s top pig-producing provinces. The draft plan also encourages large-scale livestock producers to develop integrated production from breeding to processing across a whole zone.

The ministry proposed to pilot the new system in the “central south” zone that comprises Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan before other regions proceed with the plan.

Many experts agree this plan may help supplies, but it will not stop ASF.

“I think this is not going to tackle the issue of this disease. It helps contain the disease in the area but not really eradicate it,” said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.

More than 100 outbreaks of the disease have been confirmed in 28 provinces and regions since last August. ASF is highly transmissible and deadly to pigs, but it is not harmful to humans.

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