06/17/2019, 13.22
VIETNAM
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Swine fever outbreak hits Vietnam’s farmers and food industry hard

by Tran Hung

Since last February, at least 2.47 million pigs have died. There is no vaccine or cure for the disease, which is not transmitted to humans. On 11 June, the outbreak reached Hồ Chi Minh City. So far, the country has lost US$ 154 million. Vietnam has the seventh largest pig population in the world (30 million animals) and is the sixth producer of pork. Pork constitutes 70 per cent of the local diet.

Hồ Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The African swine fever (ASF) pandemic has brought Vietnam’s food industry to its knees and hit thousands of farming families hard.

The first cases of the disease – for which there is no vaccine or treatment – were reported in early February in the northern province of Hưng Yên. So far 59 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces and province-level cities have been affected and at least 2.47 million pigs have died.

On 11 June, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hồ Chi Minh City (former Saigon) announced that the outbreak had reached the city, infecting a pig farm in the outlying District 9.

Government officials report that they culled 163 pigs at a farm owned by Ms Lê Thị Ngọc Cẩm. The authorities destroyed the food left and buried the carcasses in a deep pit, which is sterilised every day.

“The first case of African swine cholera in Hồ Chi Minh City is from a household that raised pigs on leftovers from food shops and small restaurants in the district,” said Nguyễn Phước Trung, director of the Hồ Chi Minh City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

“We are most worried about pigs that are imported into the city by small trade across borders without taxes (đường tiểu ngạch), said Ms Phạm Khánh Phong Lan, head of the Hồ Chí Minh City Management Board of Food Safety. “This means smuggling across Vietnam’s borders.”

What is more, “Currently, some crooks are appearing and announcing that they sell vaccine to prevent African swine cholera,” she added. “But I confirm that so far experts and researchers are still studying the kind of vaccine. We hope that we will have the vaccine as soon as possible. So those who are advertising and selling the vaccine are fraudulent”.

Vietnam lost and an estimated 3.6 trillion dongs (US$ 154 million) from the outbreak so far, including the costs of culling infected pigs and spraying affected areas with disinfectants.

The Southeast Asian nation has the seventh largest number of pigs in the world, 30 million, and is the sixth largest pork producer. Pig farming provides a livelihood to 2.4 million households, according to official figures, and pork constitutes 70 percent of the average Vietnamese diet.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is looking at frozen pork supplies as a plan to meet a possible pork shortage. In fact, pork imports rose 6.7 times in the first four months of this year from the same period last year to US$ 23.58 million.

African swine fever does not affect humans. The latest data collected since 6 June by the World Organisation for Animal Health indicate that the outbreak has affected 13 countries and territories, namely Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, mainland China, Hong Kong, North Korea, Vietnam and South Africa.

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