China scrambles to contain African swine fever amid major risks
Published: Mar 15, 2021 03:15 AM
pork Photo:VCG

File Photo:VCG

China is doubling efforts to contain possible new waves of the African swine fever, after new outbreaks were reported in major pork producing regions in the country and overseas, threatening the supply of the staple meat with great implications on food security and inflation.

In the latest move, agricultural and rural authorities in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, the biggest producer of pork, issued a ban on the transportation of live pigs from out of province through illegal channels and vowed to severely punish those who violate the rules, according to news reports on Sunday.

Checkpoints on interprovincial highways and roads will be increased with full inspections and disinfections conducted across the province, the Sichuan Daily newspaper said.  

Officials said that the situation to prevent and contain African swine fever, which wiped out around half of China's pig population in 2019, remains serious, after confirmed cases were reported in Central China's Hubei Province and Southwest China's Yunnan Province, two major pork producing centers.

The new enhanced measures also follow a renewed national campaign over the past week to stop the resurgence of the deadly swine fever, a threat that could erase the hard-fought gains in preventing a major outbreak over the past couple years. 

In a notice on March 8, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MOA) also said that African swine fever continues to pose a major risk for China's pork production and guards cannot be lowered. 

The ministry also called for a full-fledged crackdown campaign on fake vaccines that are being used for African swine fever, noting that no vaccines have been approved for use in China or other countries.

Also, on March 8, the MOA and the General Administration of Customs issued a ban on imports of live pigs and related products from Malaysia after five outbreaks were reported in several regions in that country killing over 300 pigs.

The new outbreaks raised concerns for possible impact on pork supply, prices as well as on overall consumer inflation in China at a critical time when the country is seeking to strengthen food security and protect its robust economic recovery. 

In February, China's consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, fell 0.2 percent year-over-year, as pork prices dropped nearly 15 percent, which dragged the CPI down by 0.39 percentage points, official data showed last week. Pork prices have jumped four times since 2018, when the African swine fever first hit China.

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