Upgraded breeding methods and more supervision are needed, experts say
Agricultural experts have called for upgrading pig breeding methods and tightening biosecurity after the ongoing African swine fever has exposed irregularities in the pig industry.
China has reported 111 outbreaks of the highly contagious pig disease across 28 provincial-level regions as of February. The first case was detected in the northeastern province of Liaoning in August, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The rapid response mechanism, including quarantine and culling measures, has been effective in controlling the spread of the disease and mitigating economic loss, Yang Hanchun, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine of China Agricultural University, said at a news conference on Friday.
More than 90 percent of the quarantines imposed on affected pig farms have been lifted, and infections due to the transport of live pigs and the use of kitchen waste have dropped recently, he said.
"However, we still face an arduous and stressful task ahead to curtail and eradicate the disease because of the massive number of small pig farms that are not equipped with effective biosecurity systems," Yang said.
According to the ministry, China produces 700 million pigs a year. Farms that breed more than 500 hogs only account for one-fifth of the total, which means nearly 80 percent of hogs come from small farms that have outdated management practices and little biosecurity protection.
"The humongous volume of China"s pig industry, and its complicated structure and widespread distribution, means it is infeasible to ditch cross-regional transport and trade," said Chen Huanchun, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
He said it is crucial to increase awareness of disease control and prevention among small pig producers, and establish a chain of supervision covering production, transport, slaughter and processing.
The epidemic also prompted the Ministry of Public Security to ramp up investigations into crimes linked to African swine fever.
The public security authority said on Friday that it has launched probes into 32 criminal cases associated with the disease and detained 90 suspects. These cases involve 15,000 live pigs and 140 metric tons of pig products.
In addition, police also uncovered more than 500 cases that involve processing or selling dead pigs or poultry. Nearly 1,000 suspects have been detained as a result.