According to the intergovernmental organization that is responsible for coordinating animal disease control, about a quarter of the world’s pig population is expected to die due to an epidemic of African swine fever (ASF).
The spread of the disease last year was surprising for the policymakers. It was particularly shocking for China as it was home to the largest pig population in the world. The disease also spread in other Asian countries including Vietnam and South Korea.
The crisis is worsening as the pork prices are rising worldwide. Since ASF broke out in 2018, almost 100m pigs died. The demand for pigs in China has increased so much so that US pork sales to Chine have doubled.
The vice-president of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Dr. Mark Schipp said that African swine fever was “the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation”. He said that the spread of ASF has sparked a worldwide crisis for the pig population.
He said that even though veterinary scientists are trying to find a vaccine for the disease, however, it is a “complex challenge” due to the nature of the virus.
Alistair Driver, the editor of the UK’s Pig World, said, “There have been suggestions recently from the Chinese government and industry representatives that the Chinese pig herd is ‘bottoming out’ and that we could see a recovery to something like previous levels in 2020.”
Adding, “However, most global analysts believe this is very optimistic and that, given the enormous losses so far and the continued spread of the virus across China and other Asian countries, there will be a huge deficit in pork production for the foreseeable future. The Asian ASF crisis is having an enormous impact on the global pork industry, with record export volumes pushing prices up around the world.”