ASF hits the Asian swine industry for more than two years already
The virus is heavily impacting the swine industry in Asia since 2018. What’s the current situation and how can the industry recover in the future?
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a very contagious and notifiable disease. It affects both domestic and wild pigs. ASF is no threat for humans. People can eat pork meat without the risk of becoming sick or dying. However, the virus is very resistant and can survive in the environment for a long period of time. The spread of the virus occurs via direct contact with live or dead pigs (domestic or wild), via contact with pork products and via indirect contact (transport, equipment, visitors, etc.). Because of the various ways of spreading, it is very difficult to eliminate the virus.
At this moment, there is no medical treatment yet and no approved vaccine. The current treatment is based on prevention of the spread by means of biosecurity measures and a control plan drawn up by local authorities following OIE instructions.
Currently, 60 countries are hit globally by ASF and this is causing huge economical damage. It has become a major crisis for the pork industry and according to the World Organization for Animal health (OIE) and the United Nations ‘Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) there is a need for a global control plan.
What’s the current situation in Asia?
Since the first case of ASF on the 1st of August 2018 in China, ASF has spread enormously and it is still present in China, Vietnam, The Philippines, Korea, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and more recently also in India.
The pig population has decreased dramatically in these countries. A shift in supply and demand of pork meat has led to higher local and global pig prices and people are changing their meat consumption behaviour to sources such as chicken, beef and fish.
How will the Asian swine industry recover from ASF in the future?
It will certainly take time for the Asian swine industry to recover from ASF. Government bodies and pig producers from the different Asian countries are making strategic long-term policies to help and stimulate the recovery of the pork industry. Expectations are that the number of backyard farms will decrease and that the number and size of commercial farms will increase.
We need to keep in mind that the virus is a stubborn enemy and will not disappear soon. Focus on improved management, biosecurity, animal care, animal welfare and environment will become very important. The different players in the value chain such as suppliers, slaughterhouses, transporters will also be encouraged to become more and more professional. But professionalism will take time, it requires investment and an amount of entrepreneurial courage. Asian people still love to eat pork. Expectations are that they are able come back stronger than before.
Interested in more information about this topic?
Feel free to talk to our Technical Service & Product Manager,
Frank Vermeiren (DVM, working and living in Asia)