SWINE FEVER SURGE HITS SMALL FARMS IN CHINA’S SICHUA

Large numbers of pigs are dying from African swine fever in China’s top hog-producing province, say farmers and analysts, raising concerns it could spread further across the south and slow China’s pork production recovery. The deadly African swine fever virus wiped out around half of China’s huge pig herd during 2018 and 2019 but the country rapidly rebuilt much of the lost stock last year.

But there have been fresh outbreaks in northern China this year, and there are more strains of the virus circulating. Now, southwestern Sichuan province, which produced 48.5 million hogs for slaughter last year, about 9% of the country’s total, is also seeing a resurgence of the virus. “Recently Sichuan is quite serious,” said Xiao Lin, analyst at Shenzhen-based Win & Fun investment fund. Most of those impacted are small farmers who had relaxed disease prevention measures to reduce costs after hog prices plunged in recent months, said Xiao.

Small farmers still account for a relatively large share of hog output in Sichuan, where mountainous terrain limits the number of large farms. Xiao estimated losses at around 10% to 15% of the herd.

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