The world’s largest epidemic of African plague has destroyed a quarter of the world’s pigs, and some countries have lost more than half of their animals in a year and are already facing an acute shortage of meat. When the epidemic ends, no one knows.
The African swine fever (ASF) has affected China the largest pig-breeding power in the world.
In 2018, there were more than 435 million of these non-ruminant artiodactyls on Chinese farms in China (for comparison, only 73 million in the United States). Now, according to analysts at Rabobank – only 175 million.
The virus has spread far beyond the borders of China. The epidemic is raging in North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines. ASF outbreaks were recorded in Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.
The epidemic has affected fifty countries, including Russia, where ASF probably infiltrated from China along with infected wild boars. In recent months, more than sixty cases of ASF in the Amur Region have been identified in the country.
In November alone, 275 animals died in the region, and another 2,473 were killed to localize the epidemic. However, in the Far East, there is only about two percent of the pig population of Russia.
ASF has turned from a veterinary problem into an economic one. Firstly, farmers suffer huge losses. Thus, in China, direct losses from the epidemic are estimated at about a trillion yuan (140 billion dollars).
Secondly, because of the deficit, meat rises in price, accelerating general inflation. In China, pork prices for December alone rose by eight percent (96 percent in terms of a year) and inflation reached an eight-year high – 4.5 percent in annual terms.
Since pork accounts for about 70 percent of the total meat consumption in China, this creates great difficulties. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), in the Chinese outback, they are returning to eating dogs, which was almost done.