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China's African swine fever epidemic could raise global meat prices



Of those, 15,000 were killed by the virus. "It started with a few pigs a day, then it was hundreds," said Sun, a pig farmer and agricultural entrepreneur from Hebei Province, China. "In the end, 800 pigs would die in a single day."

African swine fever (ASF) is decimating China's pork industry, by far the largest in the world. Dutch bank Rabobank, which lends to the global agricultural sector, estimates the country's pig population could shrink by a third in 2019 – up to 200 million animals – through a combination of disease and culling

To put it in context

 An photo of one of Sun Dawu's pig farms in March 201[ads1]8, before the epidemic

The virus is harmful to humans but deadly to the pigs – and, so far, there is no cure or vaccine. Originally in Africa, outbreaks were recorded in eastern Europe and Russia before it first appeared in China last August

It has since spread to other Asian countries, including Vietnam and Cambodia

In March, the Chinese government said it had and "good control" of the epidemic. China's central authorities have taken the right steps to bring the virus under control. According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Beijing's ASF has not been spreading as fast as it has been before

.

"They've done everything they could possibly do to control the disease, they had a plan, they had a strategy, they were responding very vigorously," said Vincent Martin, FAO representative in China. prevention teams working at Sun Dawu's pig farm after the outbreak, which killed more than 15,000 of his animals by March 2019. ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506144417-02-swine-flu-china-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>

Farms wiped out

But the scale of the outbreak may be larger than officials estimate, as some farmers tell CNN that the disease is not always recognized locally. 19659002] Sun said initial testing by provincial officials at his Hebei farm were negative for ASF. However, after he posted pictures of the dead animals online, the country's Disease Prevention and Control Center tested them and confirmed they carried the virus

Also in Hebei, fellow farmer Zhang Haixia watched all her 600 pigs die. The official cause of death, she was told, was a regular swine influenza.

"The local officials were afraid to be accountable," she told CNN. "They threatened us that there would be consequences if we reported to higher-ups in the government. They are afraid of losing their jobs because of this." ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190506153436-03-swine-flu-zhang-haixia-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>

Martin, from the FAO, warned that it could take years before the outbreak was completely contained

"I'm not sure we can say it is under control because we know how complex the disease is, "he said. "We have experience in other countries where it took years to get a handle on these diseases."

Not enough pork in the world

One of the main problems China faces in containing ASF is that its pig industry is fragmented. Martin said there are thousands of small farms that may not have the correct bio-security measures needed to control the spread of the disease

Another complication is that the virus can survive in pork products for months, meaning it can be reintroduced into ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/151118155751-feral-boar-large-169.jpg”/>

Swine fever threatens pork industry as China prepares for Year of the Pig ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/151118155751-feral-boar-large-169.jpg”/>

Swine fever threatens pork industry as China prepares for Year of the Pig ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/151118155751-feral-boar-large-169.jpg”/>

And it's not just producers who are hurting. The epidemic could also have a broader economic impact: China is the world's largest consumer of poultry, a staple for the vast majority of its 1.4 billion people.

According to government forecasts, the price of pork could rise to record levels in the second half of 2019, as demand overwhelms supply.

Analysts say there is not enough pig meat in the world to cover China's expected shortage and consumers

Rabobank's report predicts an "unprecedented" shift in global protein supply to China to cover the shortage

 Swine fever has wreaked havoc with China's pork production, and the world is feeling it
"This shift will probably create unexpected product shortfalls on markets previously serviced by suppliers … that will ultimately result in higher global protein prices, "report author Christine McCracken wrote

Pork producers in Europe and the US are already starting to increase shipments to China, even though US exports are subject to a 62% tariff b

In the lunar calendar, 2019 is the year of the pig. It's supposed to be an auspicious year. For China's pork industry, it's anything but


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