Lunar New Year in China raises risks of worsening ASF crisis, minister says

The Chinese government said today that the country’s race to boost pork supplies by increasing hog breeding has raised the risks of worsening the African swine fever crisis.

The South China Morning Post reported that the African swine fever situation remains severe and complex and quoted vice-agriculture minister Yu Kangzhen, who said: “The risk of outbreaks will rise with the rapid increase in the number of live pigs.”

According to Mr Yu, China’s sow herd rose 2.2% in December compared with November.

China’s sow herd declined by about 40% after the deadly disease ASF killed millions of pigs and prevented many farmers from restocking farms.

Mr Yu did not reveal December data on live pigs, but said that the number of pigs sent for slaughter rose by 14.1% from a month earlier, as farmers liquidated their herds ahead of the Lunar New Year festival later this month. Farmers typically fatten up their pigs for slaughter before the holiday, when pork is in high demand.

Winter and spring is the high season for animal diseases including swine fever, and “the risk of spreading the virus will rise greatly” with more live pigs and pork products being distributed nationwide before Lunar New Year, Mr Yu said.


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