The world’s largest pig market is in crisis. China has been struggling to contain the outbreak of African swine fever since it was first reported last August. The disease has also crossed borders into Mongolia, Vietnam and Cambodia. CGTN’s Gerald Tan takes stock of the epidemic.
Highly contagious, untreatable, and fatal to pigs – African swine fever grips China. In just nine months, it’s ripped through every Chinese mainland province. More than one million pigs have been culled; yet, the epidemic shows no sign of abating.
Zhu Zengyong of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said, “In March, our whole amount of breeding sows on hand fell by 21 percent year on year, which indicates that we will see an apparent decline in the supply of live pigs in 2019.”
There’s no risk to humans, but China now requires pork producers to obtain certificates declaring their meat disease-free.
The nation’s appetite for pork remains undeterred. And it’s set to drive prices up, at home and abroad.
To make up for the shortfall in supply, China is turning to imports, including pork from the United States, despite heavy tariffs imposed amid the current trade dispute.
In the first two weeks of April alone, it bought 101,000 tons of U.S. pork. That’s almost 20 times more than purchased in the same period last year. In total, U.S. pork sales to China are predicted to hit a record 2.2 million tons this year and that’s despite those import tariffs that stand at 62 percent.
China’s diminishing hog herd is also threatening the pharmaceutical market. The widely used blood-thinner heparin is made from pig intestines, nearly 80 percent of which are typically supplied by China. Authorities say a global shortage of the drug could result.
Meanwhile, many countries including the United States are taking extra precautions with live swine and meat imports in an effort to stop the African swine fever outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.
Peter Daszak discusses the swine flu epidemic
CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Peter Daszak, President of the EcoHealth Alliance, about the swine flu virus.